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What is a broker?

Last updated Wednesday, 11th Dec 2013

A support broker supports someone with an estimated personal budget to work out the best way to meet their social care needs and get the life they want.

They can then support the individual to create a support plan to show how they would use their estimated budget to choose the right support to meet their eligible social care needs.

How is a support broker paid?

A support broker may be an employee or volunteer of a community organisation or self-employed. Their support broker profile on the 'find a broker' database will explain this and gives information about whether they can offer their service free or if they need to charge for their work.

What could a support broker help with?

A support broker could help with:

  • helping you think about what sort of life you’d really like to have.
  • making a plan that will get you closer to the life you want.
  • finding service agencies that could give you the support you need and talking to them about how they would deliver it and what it would cost.
  • finding other services that you may need – like housing, equipment, or help with getting a job.
  • finding places and people in your community that may help you have a better life.
  • working out what the plan will cost, and writing the Support Plan that the council must approve before your Personal Budget is approved.
  • going to a meeting with the council to ask for the money you need.
  • making sure that the plan can be put into action.

A support broker doesn't have to be involved in all of these tasks. The person may do some of these themselves, or know somoneone else who they would like to ask. Before a support broker starts work with someone, they need to agree which tasks they will help with.

A support broker will not assess a person's needs, or make decisions for them. They will support the person to make their onw choices and give different options. they may tell the peson if they think that part of their plan is unlikley to get funded - but do not decide what is allowed.

Who else might be involved?

The person may want to involve family, friends or others. They can ask the support broker to speak with them as well. Other people may be very important in helping the support broker understand the person’s hopes, likes, and dislikes. But it’s still the support broker’s role to do what the person thinks is right for them, not to do what other people think is best for them.

The support broker won’t talk to other people without asking the person first and may include information about this in the ‘contract’ or ask them to confirm things by signing a consent form. As part of their role, the support broker may support a person during a meeting or, if the person asks them to meet with others on their behalf as part of their work for them, the support broker will let them know what was discussed.

How does someone find a support broker?

Signpost has a register of people who have been trained to act as support brokers and meet the Signpost Brokerage Quality Charter. People will be able to find a support broker by searching our ‘find a broker’ database. Anyone who does not have access to a computer can talk to someone about choosing a support broker by telephoning the team at Signpost.

Appointing a support broker

Once someone appoints a support broker, the support broker will write to confirm the arrangements made. This letter forms a contract or agreement between them. It should include information on the following:

  • Their contact details and when they will be available to work.
  • What kind of help they will offer.
  • The agreed list of people that they will be speaking to as part of their work for the person.
  • How the person wants to be involved in meetings or visits.
  • Agreed arrangements for reporting back to the person on their work.
  • Information about how the person can complain if they are not satisfied with the service received.

Monitoring and quality assurance

In order to be sure that support brokers registered with Signpost keep to the Signpost Brokerage Quality Charter, Signpost has drawn up policies and procedures which support brokers must follow and will offer ongoing support to brokers. Summaries of policies in relation to gaining feedback, dealing with complaints, confidentiality, safeguarding, CRB checks, insurance and training are given in the section on the Signpost Brokerage Quality Charter

 More information about independent support brokers

More information about independent support brokers can be found on the National Brokerage Network's website which includes a document called 'Ten Statements about Support Brokers'.

Skills for Care produced a useful report called The independent Broker Role and Training Requirements.

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