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Halton: information, personalisation & hate crime

Halton Disability Forum meeting

The new Halton Disability Forum (organised by Halton Disability Partnership (HDP) and funded through the Big Lottery) held another meeting on 6/10/11. The next Open Meeting is on December 15th at the Stobart Stadium, Runcorn.

Benefits information

The previous Forum had asked HDP to contact Halton Borough Council formally about the problem of benefits information. There was an increased need for information on benefits for disabled people (because of many changes to the way that national benefits were assessed and awarded) but in Halton there was now much less independent advice and support available.

The Council's reply was about the need to constrain budgets, and offered no real solution.The Forum decided

  • to collect together details of other local organisations that could help provide this advice
  • to see what sort of quality mark would be relevant (because bad advice was sometimes worse than none)
  • to discuss the issue of disability benefits advice specifically with the local CAB  

Please contact HDP if you want to help with this process.


Helen Moir of Halton BC gave a presentation on the progress within in Runcorn and Widnes of this big change in the way that disabled people are supported. Halton had almost met the targets the government had set for last year - and the next challenge would be to get 100% of Halton disabled people getting Personal Budgets by 2013.

Administrative and payment systems need to be changed, and pilot studies carried out (some in conjunction with other local Merseyside boroughs) - as well as changes to the way that both disabled people and council staff approach the support issue. A new section on the Halton BC website - My Life - was one of the ways that the Council was trying to increase the information available about the process

Working with Halton Speak Out, a pilot had found that the support for establishing budgets was working quite well - but there was still a need to open up a lot of "hidden" processes (or at least implied, but not transparent) within Adult Services.

Older people: they are likely to be a major proportion of the disabled people needing support, but possibly more reluctant to take on the responsibilities of managing their own Personal Budgets, or of employing staff themselves (this wasn't accepted by everyone there)
Brokerage: getting people other than Council staff to help disabled people draw up their own Support Plans, and help them to find the services outside of the Council that they might want to purchase. A Resource Directory would soon be available and HNC was also developing a PA Register, which might include quality measures.

Earlier talk of HBC Direct Payments budgets having to be spent at the Council's own leisure centres (and not a private gym) was apparently not entirely accurate: though disabled people with Personal Budgets had greater freedom about who their resources were spent with, the Local Authority ultimately controls the spending total and has a duty to "to make sure the money is spent in the most effective way".

Hate crime

Following a local Hate Crime Event, disabled people in Halton were encouraged to report harassment and crime related to their disability. Only the most serious cases usually get reported - or publicised - and this leads to an under-appreciation of the scale of the problem.

Open meeting- December 15th, 2011

The next Halton Disability Forum meeting will be held in a larger room at the Stobart Stadium, Runcorn, and there is an open invitation to disabled people, or people representing groups of disabled peoplem to attend to hear about matters of concern or interest in Runcorn and Widnes.