35.Supplementary memorandum from People
First (MIB 1224)
1. What don't you like about the bill?
The General Authority to act is open to abuse.
Paid carers and relatives could say that we
can't make a choice, because it is what is best for them rather
than best for the person with learning difficulties. This will
go against the aims of more choice and control for people with
learning difficulties in Valuing People, for instance living independently
or having relationships.
It goes against our human rights, for instance
right to freedom, right to family life, right to privacy.
Our members have told us about their relatives
and paid carers bossing them about, this shows that it is unwise
to put faith in these people to really allow us to make our own
There is no easy way for people to complain.
It is no good relying on social services complaints procedures,
because they do not work and many people do not know how to use
them. Also if it is a relative or neighbour stopping you from
making a choice, there is no complaints procedure.
2. What do you think is good about the draft
It is good that it says we should be supported
to make our own decisions. But on a day-to-day basis in the places
where people with learning difficulties live and spend their time,
how do you make sure that relatives and paid carers keep to that?
3. Can you think of any ways the Draft Bill
could make sure that people are really supported to make choices
The bill should give a right to independent
advocacy whenever some-ones ability to make their own decisions
People with learning difficulties going into
places where other people with learning difficulties live or spend
their time to ask them if they are allowed to make their own choices.
Service users with learning difficulties are more likely to feel
comfortable about speaking up to another person with learning
Training and information for people with learning
difficulties by people with learning difficulties, about their
rights to make their own decisions and what to do if people stop
them making their own decisions.
A right to non-means tested legal aid to help
people to go to court if they are being stopped from making a
4. How do you think more about Person Centred
Planning should be included in the bill?
The bill should say that people who are supporting
people to make their own choices should use Person Centred Planning
to find out what people with learning difficulties want when they
need to make a choice.
5. Can you think of any ways the Draft Bill
could make sure that people with communication difficulties are
supported to tell people what their choices are?
The bill could give a right to the communication
aids that people need, with enough funding to do this properly.
Paid Carers and relatives should have proper
training and support from communication experts so they are able
to deal with the communication needs of people who find it hard
to speak up.
People who have communication difficulties, whose
ability to make their own choices is being questioned, should
have an independent citizen advocate.
6. What would you like the draft bill to
say about people's right to help from an advocate?
As we said earlier, the bill should give a right
to independent advocacy whenever some-ones ability to make their
own decisions is questioned.
7. If the Draft Bill became law, can you
tell us about any problems you think might happen because of the
The "General Authority" is too easy
to abuse it puts too much trust in relatives, staff and others
to really support people to make their own choices. Lots of People
First members have told us that relatives and staff do not support
them to make their own choices. Our members tell us that they
are bossed about by relatives and staff and that decisions are
made for them that are really best for the relative, paid carer
or service provider. For instance, people who need support to
go out will be stopped from going out by service providers because
the service provider has not paid for enough staff to provide
support for the person to go out.
The "General Authority" will mean
that over-protective relatives, paid carers and other people will
be legally able to stop us doing things that we could do.
Paid carers, relatives and other people will
be able to use the general authority to control people with learning
difficulties to suit themselves. If challenged, they can just
say that they thought the person with learning difficulties could
not make their own choice and get away with it.
Another problem will be that people will say
that it was reasonable for them to think that someone cannot make
a choice just because someone has learning difficulties.
8. Do you think the `General Authority' should
stay in the Draft Bill?
9. If you don't think so, is there a different
way to make relatives and carers understand what they can and
cannot do when making choices for other people?
The bill could say that people must support
people to make their own choices using guidance like Person Centred
Planning and the supported decision making guidelines done by
Values Into Action.
The bill could say that relatives, paid carers
and other people have a duty to involve an independent citizen
advocate if a person with learning difficulties is finding it
hard to make a choice.
10. If the `General Authority stays in the
Draft Bill how might it be made better?
We think the general authority is unworkable
and dangerous no matter how many safeguards you put in, because
some people will always do their best to get around the safeguards.
11. Do you think the Draft Bill will make
sure that the choices made for people with learning difficulties
are really in their best interests?
There should be a monitoring system to make
sure that decisions being made by a court appointed manager are
really in someone's best interests and that they are only making
decisions for the person that they are allowed to make by the
The government would need to check the monitoring
system is working properly.
If a Court Appointed Manager makes decisions
that they shouldn't, they should be replaced.
The likelihood of conflicts of interest should
be highlighted. (Bone Marrow donation example)
Having access to an independent citizen advocate
and non-means tested legal aid is essential.
If there is a dispute between the independent
citizen advocate and the court appointed manager there needs to
be an arbitration service as well as the option of going to the
Court of Protection for a decision.
12. Can you tell us about any times when
your members have successfully complained about choices that someone
else has made for them? How did they do this?
We know of lots of examples where People First
members have tried to complain but have not been successful, the
complaints systems don't work well for people with learning difficulties.
13. Can you think of any ways the Draft Bill
could make it easier for people to complain if they are being
stopped from making choices, which they think they should be allowed
Mandatory right to an independent citizen advocate
with proper funding so there are enough advocacy services.
Access to non-means tested legal aid. (Training
for solicitors by people with learning difficulties.)
Information campaign for people with learning
difficulties about how to complain including training sessions
by people with learning difficulties.
14. Do you think that people with learning
difficulties should help to train the judges and staff who will
work at the new Court of Protection? What sort of training will
Training would need to cover:
Judges having links self-advocacy
Working in an accessible way.
Realities of life for people with
learning difficulties about being controlled and bossed about.
The power imbalance between people
with learning difficulties and their relatives, paid carers and
The conflicts of interest that often
occur between people with learning difficulties and paid carers,
How important it is to listen to
the evidence of independent people like citizen advocates, stress
that advocates cannot be relatives or paid carers.
Some people with learning difficulties
have learnt to be helpless and dependent because they have not
been allowed to do things for themselves.