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Blog - Getting the Act together on personal budgets

In Control has just sent through a submission to the pre-legislative scrutiny committee on the Care and Support Bill, being chaired by former minister Paul Burstow.  (See below). This is our second submission - you wait for one submission and then two come along together! The previous one earlier in the week was with a group of partners and concentrated on changes needed to shift attention and action to helping shift from what is in effect a crisis driven social care system

The new submission is very much focussed on personal budgets and self-directed support. We have concentrated on this because we are increasingly worried about delivery of PBs that doesn't follow the key principles of self-directed support. In her pre-Christmas blog Julie Stansfield gave just a couple of examples of daft local practice that restrict creative efficient approaches but these are unfortunately all too common now.  Though of course policy and legislation of themselves cannot guarantee good delivery we should look to use the Bill and associated regulations and guidance to lever as much of a shift in the right direction as possible.

The positive news is that we are increasingly clear - through the use of POET and other evidence such as the personal health budgets evaluation - what leads to the best results. Professor Chris Hatton of Lancaster University  summarises :

For all groups of people using personal budgets (including older people) better outcomes are robustly associated with an experience of personal budgets that conforms to the underlying principles of the personal budget process:

  • getting a personal budget in a form where the person can exercise self-determination,
  • knowing what their personal budget is,
  • having a budget adequate for the person's needs,
  • getting helpful support (with input from family and/or friends) to design a meaningful support plan,
  • and getting support to guide the person through every aspect of the personal budget process.

Also important are:

  • Local communities with the capability to support the person in using their personal budget meaningfully,
  • Personal budgets being delivered in ways that make the person feel secure in their access to their personal budget, and where the local authority operates in ways that are transparent, fair and predictable to the person and their supporters.

A very significant finding of the National Personal Budgets Survey was the big differences between councils' delivery practice. We have to conclude that if some can do it properly, gaining the win-wins of lean process, reduced bureaucracy, better experience and improved outcomes - others can too. One problem is that still too few councils are regularly checking the results and comparing with others - even though very simple low cost, low administration approaches like POET are readily available.  Councils should be checking PB results as part of using the Think Local Act Personal Making it Real markers and including learning and action in their Local Accounts.

So - though we are not kidding ourselves that the Bill on its own can transform this situation, it really does need to send a message to the sector to do personal budgets properly and provide guidance to drive this.

Martin Routledge

In Control

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Last Updated : 27 February 2013. Page Author: Pam Schreier.