Essex study into personal budgets finds encouraging results

A 3-year research project in Essex on the impact of personal budgets found they almost always contributed to a positive experience.

For the past 3 years, the Office of Public Management in conjunction with Essex County Council and ECDP, has been working with social care users in Essex to discover what kind of impact personal budgets are having on the lives of people who use them.

While the study found that overall there was a positive experience for all, older users had a markedly different experience from other users.

The study found that many older personal budget holders and their families prefer to use the new system to purchase more traditional forms of care, in more positive ways.

They also benefited from being able to employ someone directly, rather than relying on family members, citing the positive effect they felt this had on their dignity.

On the other hand those who manage personal budgets on behalf of younger people with learning disabilities, favoured employing someone with intimate knowledge of their child's needs, often a family member themselves.

It was also discovered that personal budget holders of working age were far more inclined to use the system creatively to access community services; such as swimming, bowling, gym membership, or theatre trips.

The study looked at some of the wider challenges faced such as the role the local market played in ensuring the services wanted by budget holders are available.

Overall, The study in Essex could be considered incredibly encouraging and many of the lessons learned have already been used to make the system better for the people who live there.

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Last Updated : 31 October 2013. Page Author: marijke.hirst.