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:
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:
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.
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.