Councils fail information test on personal budgets


Local authorities are failing to provide disabled people with accurate information on personal budgets, according to a national disability charity.

Livability, which provides services such as care homes and supported living, reviewed more than 100 local authorities across England and found nearly half of their websites contained no information on personal budgets.

Almost half of telephone enquiries about personal budgets were misdirected and almost a quarter of the councils could not provide any information on personal budgets at all.

Fewer than one in 30 local authorities were able to recommend additional sources of information.

Only two councils, the City of London and Portsmouth City Council, scored ten out of ten for the information they provided.

Meanwhile, a survey commissioned by the charity of more than 500 disabled young adults found nearly nine in ten had never heard of personal budgets.

A Livability spokeswoman said councils themselves seemed to be confused about terminology, and often confused personal budgets, individual budgets (another form of self-directed support piloted by the government, which included different funding streams besides adult social care) and direct payments.

Mary Bishop, chief executive of Livability, said the results were “extremely worrying”.

She said: “Personal budgets have the potential to transform the lives of disabled people by giving them choice and control and yet awareness of them is woefully inadequate.”

Mark Harper, the Conservative shadow minister for disabled people, said it was clear there was “still a great deal more to do to ensure that disabled people up and down the country can take advantage of personal budgets”.

He said the government should “show more leadership” and “impress upon local authorities the importance of making these opportunities available for disabled people”.

Livability called on the government to run a national awareness-raising campaign aimed at disabled people.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Personal budgets offer people choice and control over their care and support.

“Councils have been running local pilots and 30 have already started rolling out personal budgets across their areas.

“We expect the others to follow over the next six months. We are supporting councils to achieve this transformation by offering guidance and a £500 million investment over three years.

“We expect councils to provide information and advice on personal budgets as the roll-out takes place.”

10 February 2010

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