Social care experts are divided over the achievability of a pledge in the care White Paper to give all eligible users a personal budget by 2012.
Self-directed support pioneers In Control and public service consultancy iMPOWER, which is helping a number of English councils implement personalisation, believe the target is feasible, but service user network Shaping Our Lives has voiced doubts.
As of last year, 7% of users received self-directed support and councils have been set a target of ensuring 30% of their clients are receiving a personal budget by April 2011. They should be offering all new users and those receiving a care review a personal budget by October 2010.
National director for social care transformation, Jeff Jerome, who is supporting councils to implement personalisation, has said previously that a “handful of authorities” have been slow in rolling out personal budgets.
And last month’s annual In Control conference heard concerns that social workers and managers across England were resistant to enabling service users to control their care and support through personal budgets.
Peter Beresford, chair of Shaping Our Lives, said he had doubts that the 2012 target was likely to be met in a way that allowed users true choice and control because it took time to set up the infrastructure to deliver personal budgets and ensure staff are sufficiently trained.
He said: “I think, doing the maths, that to make it real on that scale in that time is setting us all up to fail.”
However, Jeremy Cooper, director of iMPOWER, said that once the personal budget system was up and running in any council there was no reason why all users could not benefit.
He said: “We wouldn’t think there should be any difference in whether people should be offered one or having one. It’s a straightforward thing to do. The scale of change may vary but I think it’s achievable.”