British taxpayers' money is being spent on prostitutes, lap dancing clubs and exotic holidays under schemes designed to give more independence to the disabled. One local authority is using its budget to pay for the services of a prostitute in Amsterdam, while others have said visits to lap dancing clubs are permissible under new policies which transfer funds directly to those who receive care from social services. Holidays abroad, subscriptions for internet dating and driving lessons have all been funded by the taxpayer under a national initiative introduced by the last Government.
The £520 million scheme promised to give elderly people and those with disabilities more control over the care they received, by passing on cash so individuals could choose the services they needed, such as home help, or mobility aids. Exotic holidays, internet dating subscriptions and adventure breaks, as well as visits to sex workers and lap dancing clubs have been permitted under the system. One local authority has agreed a care plan including payment for a 21-year-old with learning disabilities to have sex with a prostitute in Amsterdam next month. His social worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said social services were there to identify and meet the needs of their clients – which, in the case of an angry and frustrated young man, meant paying for sex.
Another care worker said staff at her council had been told that trips to lap dancing clubs could be funded, if it could be argued that it would help the "mental and physical well being" of their client. In response to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, four local authorities describe themselves as "condoning" the payment of sex workers by disabled clients, using money transferred from their budgets. Other councils said they took no moral judgement about the use of funds, but said care money could be spent on anything, as long as it was not illegal. Paying for sex is not against the law but soliciting sexual services, kerb crawling and paying for sex with women who have been coerced into prostitution is.
In Greater Manchester and Norfolk, councils say payments to social care clients can be used to pay for internet dating subscriptions. In the course of 12 months, one man with mental health problems from Norwich received a holiday in Tunisia, a subscription to an internet dating site, driving lessons, and expensive art materials. Department of Health documents describe how the man received the funding on top of his state benefits, after suffering from psychiatric problems when his wife asked for a divorce. In the report on his case, the man says he needed "some time out, some rest and a change of scenery" after suffering marital problems and says the break in Tunisia with a friend was cheaper than a week in institutional care.