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