Campaigners say growing use of prepaid cards for people to spend on support at home is removing their independence
For the past 10 years, Edwina McCarthy, 63, has lived contentedly in her own home in south London with the support of personal assistants she employs through a personal budget for needs arising from cerebral palsy. In many ways, she is an advertisement for the merits of the personalisation of care and health.
But McCarthy feels her lifestyle is under threat. “They tell you, ‘there’s the money. You can be independent’,” she says. “But you can’t. They monitor every action you take.”
What bothers McCarthy is that, in common with more than 30,000 other people with personal budgets, her funding is no longer sent to her bank account as a direct payment, but is loaded on to a prepaid card. Not only does this enable her local council to check exactly how she is spending it, but it gives it the power to veto expenditure it disapproves of.