Individual Budgets (IBs), piloted in 13 English local authorities, aimed to give greater flexibility, choice and control. Although primarily intended to benefit chronically sick, disabled and older people, IBs could also be expected to affect carers. This study investigated the impact of IBs on carers in terms of assessment, support planning, costs and outcomes.
Multivariate analyses of the structured interview data showed that IBs were associated with positive impacts on carers’ quality of life, social care outcomes and psychological well-being. In relation to all these outcome measures, carers of IB users scored higher than carers of people using standard social care services; the difference between the two groups of carers was statistically significant in relation to carers’ quality of life. Moreover, in relation to the COPE index, which measures the impact of the care-giving role, carers of IB users were no more likely to view their role negatively than carers who were supporting people using standard social care services. These results were achieved at no greater cost to the public purse, suggesting that for carers IBs are cost-effective.