Three-year study finds appetite for personal budgets


Disabled people who are given more control of their care funding through personal budgets are more likely to enjoy better quality care, a fuller life, increased independence and improved health, according to the results of a three-year study.

The final report of the study into the impact of personal budgets on service-users in Essex found that council staff and service-providers were also positive about the system, which allows disabled people receiving council-funded care to choose who provides that support.

The report says service-users were able to exercise increased choice and control over the people they employed to provide their care, which often meant they could pay a family member or friend.

Some service-users used their personal budgets to buy leisure activities and pay for other “personal development” opportunities, which led to “fuller and what they often described as more ‘normal’ lives”.

And for some, the activities and care they bought had had a “substantial impact” on their physical health and well-being.

There were occasional difficulties, with some service-users reporting a lack of clarity about how their personal budgets could be used, and some experiencing stress because of the extra financial burden, for example when their personal budget stopped unexpectedly.

One service-user, whose personal budget had allowed him to move out of the home he shared with his parents and into a place of his own with a live-in personal assistant, says in the report that it had allowed him to do “things I wouldn’t have contemplated” before, and had made “every difference in the world”.

The study was a joint project between Essex County Council, ecdp (formerly Essex Coalition of Disabled People) and the private sector Office for Public Management.

Mike Adams, ecdp’s chief executive, said: “The service-users were individuals with physical and sensory impairments, older people and those with learning disabilities as well, and what we have seen is an attractiveness and appetite for personal budgets from all three of those groups.”

15 November 2012