Councils fail to tell service users about personal budgets

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Many councils in England are failing to provide potential service users with adequate information about personal budgets – nearly two years into the personalisation agenda.

That was the message from a review published today by disability charity and provider Livability, which found nearly half of councils had no information on their websites about personal budgets while a further one-fifth carried information that was considered poor.

Almost a quarter provided no information by telephone, while only the City of London and Portsmouth Council scored a perfect 10 for information provided by website and telephone.

The charity surveyed 103 councils in England, two-thirds of the total, for information on personal budgets, under which eligible users are allocated a sum of money and given control of how their care needs are met. The website survey covered issues such as ease of finding information using the search function.

Livability also identified widespread variation in the use of terminology, with some councils using “personal budgets” and ­others “individual budgets”. IBs were piloted from 2005 to 2007 and include multiple funding streams, not just social care.

Under the government’s Putting People First programme, councils have been expected to roll out personal budgets from 2008 to 2011, while also improving information for users.

Dave Webber, director of adult services at Livability, said its research revealed a “massive disconnection” between government policy and local authority implementation. Among four recommendations, Livability called for a “nationally branded campaign” to raise awareness of personal budgets.

National director for social care transformation Jeff Jerome, who is responsible for helping councils implement personalisation, said authorities needed to provide information on the fact that people assessed as eligible for social care would be offered a personal budget.

But though he admitted the provision of information was not good enough, Jerome said that it was not for councils to “advertise” personal budgets given that many people enquiring about services would not be eligible.

Survey findings

● 45% of council websites had no information at all on personal budgets.

● 21% of websites received a rating of less than three out of 10 for information provided.

● 23% of councils provided no information by telephone.

More on Livability 

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