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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2011): Social care - UK - community care

Do personal budgets work?

C. Slasberg and C. Hatton

Community Care, Oct. 6th 2011, p. 22-23

Research based on the National Personal Budgets Survey found that personal budgets were improving outcomes for service users. Slasberg claims that the positive effects are not the work of personal budgets, but arise because people with direct payments receive an average of 7,300 per year while only 3,900 is spent on other community service users. Hatton defends his research results.

Domiciliary care UK market report 2011

Laing & Buisson

2011

This analysis shows that council spending on domiciliary care fell by 8% in 2009/10. The report argues that the change can be attributed in the main to the personalisation agenda, which is seeing an increasing number of clients given funds to purchase their own care. Independent sector homecare businesses continued to increase their market share, achieving an 84% slice of the hours funded by local authorities in 2009/10. Due to the personalisation agenda, local authorities are moving from block contracts to spot purchasing of services. There was also evidence that in some cases the change to a personal budget led to less homecare being purchased. The fastest growing market sector, however, was that of NHS homecare with hospital discharge and admission avoidance schemes fuelling much of this expansion.

Oversight of user choice and provider competition in care markets

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/12; HC1458)

The report warns that shortcomings must be addressed if value for money is to be secured in the future for users of social care "personal budgets". Most people who use personal budgets report improved wellbeing, but more needs to be done to ensure that care markets deliver a genuine choice of services to all users. Support should be available to help users exercise choice and access essential services relied on by vulnerable people; and care should continue to be provided in the event of the failure of a major provider. Some people are using their personal budgets in innovative ways, such as pooling them with others to pay jointly for a personal assistant to help with their care needs, but others have found buying care for themselves difficult.

What price dignity in care?

B. Schwehr

Community Living, vol. 25, no. 1, p. 18-19

This article comments on the case of Elaine McDonald who had challenged through a judicial review a decision by the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to withdraw her night time support worker and force her to use incontinence pads to urinate into. Ms McDonald lost the case as the Supreme Court ruled that the local authority's decision was not irrational or illegal. This judgement will make it harder for others to use judicial review to challenge the adequacy of support plans.

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