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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2008): Social care - UK - community care

Individual budgets - the story so far

J. Manthorpe

Community Care, Nov. 6th 2008, p. 32-33

The Department of Health invited councils to pilot individual budgets (IBs) and 13 sites were selected . All were expected to begin offering them by April 2006. Funding was provided and the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) gave regular encouragement. An evaluation of the pilot projects found that:

  • People receiving IBs were more likely to feel in control of their lives
  • IBs were cost effective for care outcomes, except for older people
  • Mental health service users reported significantly higher quality of life
  • Younger physically disabled people reported receiving higher quality care and were more satisfied
  • Older people reported lower psychological well-being with IBs, perhaps because they found planning and managing their own support to be a burden

Individual budgets on the frontline

J. Manthorpe

Community Care, Nov. 13th 2008, p. 30-31

The Individual Budget Evaluation Network asked social care staff for their verdict on IBs. Staff said that:

  • IBs could improve life for service users and reinforce social work values
  • Practitioners working with IB holders spent more time assessing the needs of service users and carers, planning how IBs should be used and training.
  • There is a tension between the financial and other risks sometimes involved and safeguarding responsibilities
  • There is a concern that professional skills are being eroded
  • There are legal and accountability barriers to incorporating different funding streams into IBs.


A. Mickel, C. Slasberg and A. Cozens

Community Care, Oct. 23rd 2008, p. 28-31

A survey of 600 social workers has shown that only 11% viewed the plans to extend personalisation of services to all users as appropriate. A massive 96% of local authority staff fear that it risks making users more vulnerable. Slasberg argues that personal budgets will not work for all service users, and that councils need to focus on commissioning mainstream providers to deliver services tailormade for clients who have no wish to organise their own support. Cozens points out that personal budgets alone will not transform the quality of life of older and disabled people. They need to be balanced by efforts to create caring and supportive communities.

The personalisation agenda: threats and opportunities for domiciliary care providers

L. Sawyer

Journal of Care Services Management, vol. 3, no.1, 2008, p. 41-63

Social care provision is moving from a profession-dominated system in which people's needs are assessed and they then have to choose from a very limited menu of services to a system where decisions will be handed over to individuals with their own personal budgets, which they can use to buy in the support they need. This new system offers both opportunities and threats to private for-profit home care providers. The reforms offer opportunities to develop better relationships with service users, to develop innovative new services, and to improve staff retention. However there are threats to the financial stability of the private sector due to loss of high volume block contracts with local authorities, and also dangers that experienced careworkers will leave to become personal assistants. The private sector needs more help and support from government to make the changes needed for them to thrive in the new environment.

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