Lincolnshire County Council said it is implementing innovative ways which allow direct payments to be more manageable and secure. Prepaid cards have been introduced to do this and they have already proved to be successful for 130 other public sector organisations in the UK.
This scheme aims to simplify the payment process whilst protecting people that use prepaid cards from financial abuse. The council will no longer need to view bank statements and no new bank accounts will need to be established so that money can be paid directly into them.
Councillor Patricia Bradwell, executive member for adult care, welcomed the introduction of the new system. She said it is great for those who need care in Lincolnshire. She added that they are easy to use and those using care will be safer as a result, whilst being protected from fraud.
The Lincolnshire councillor said anyone in the county, regardless of their financial background, is eligible to receive Social Care Support from the county council and have a prepaid card whilst receiving direct payments.
Those who want a direct payment will also be given with a prepaid card. The chance to swap to a prepaid card account will be provided for those already in receipt of direct payments. Their support plans will be reviewed before though.
Other benefits of this system include funds being loaded quickly and easily by the county council, the chance for people to learn life skills and it is easy to manage your account online or over the telephone. It also reduces the need for cash and companion cards are available.
Under the new scheme, people will be given the option to either pay at point of sale using chip and pin or directly into an account via bank transfer. Direct debits and standing orders can be created if users choose to have a prepaid account.
Those who are not comfortable using online banking do not have to be provided with this benefit. Both the Direct Payments Team and telephone banking are there to establish online payments. By calling the provider, customers can request information about their accounts over the telephone. Security questions will be asked to confirm the caller’s identity to prevent potential fraudsters from gaining data regarding their account.
The payment provider will not carry out any credit checks, but they will want to clarify the person’s identity and address. These searches do not impact upon a person’s credit record. However, the search may leave an indicator, called an ‘enquiry’, that indicates it has been performed.
A nominated person can be appointed to help run the account. A letter of authority would need to be signed by the appointee and have seen a copy of the Direct Payment Agreement to establish they agree with it. This person will be issued with a card linked to the original card.
Approximately 1,400 people in Lincolnshire are currently awarded with direct payments.