A new survey offers fresh evidence that using personal budgets to organise their social care increases disabled people’s independence and dignity, and their ability to choose and control their support.
The survey of more than 3,300 personal budget-holders and carers found less than 10 per cent of the budget-holders reported a negative impact on any of the 14 areas of their lives they were asked about.
The survey of 22 volunteer local authorities in England was carried out on behalf of the cross-sector partnership Think Local Act Personal.
More than seven in 10 disabled and older people who had a personal budget reported that it had had a positive impact on their independence, their ability to secure the support they needed and wanted, and whether they were supported with dignity.
More than six in 10 reported a positive impact on their physical health, mental wellbeing and control over their support.
And more than half reported a positive impact on feelings of safety in and outside their homes, and in their relationships with paid supporters.
But more than 80 per cent of personal budget-holders said it had made no difference in getting and keeping a paid job.
In all but three of the 14 life areas the survey asked about, less than five per cent of people said things had become worse or a lot worse, while in the other three areas no more than six per cent of people reported things becoming worse.
The number of people receiving personal budgets – through which individuals eligible for support are told how much money their council is giving them to meet their support needs, and can then work out how best to use that funding – increased from 377,000 to 527,000 between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The survey also questioned a smaller number of people who had personal health budgets, and found similar results to those who had social care personal budgets.
Sue Bott, director of development for Disability Rights UK and a TLAP board member, said: “Once again the survey of people with personal budgets demonstrates that when people have choice and control in how their support needs are met they have better outcomes, which is a much better use of limited resources.”
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat care services minister, said it was “very encouraging that in general we see people saying that outcomes are improving in most areas of life following receipt of a personal budget”.
But he said it was “of real concern” that the people surveyed often described “poor experiences” of the process of delivering personal budgets by local authorities, with “unhelpful bureaucracy, delays, inflexibility and confusion about how people can spend their personal budgets and on what”.
And he said that possibly the “starkest” finding was the level of variation from council to council, with some local authorities “having much more success” than others in securing better outcomes and experiences from personal budgets.
TLAP’s second national survey was carried out by the charity In Control and the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University.
23 May 2013