Most councils have 30% of service users on personal budgets

Most councils hit a target to have 30% of users and carers on personal budgets by April 2011, but wide variations remain in take-up between authorities, show figures released today.

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Most councils hit a target to have 30% of users and carers on personal budgets by April 2011, but wide variations remain in take-up between authorities, show figures released today.

Almost two-thirds of councils met the 30% target set by the Labour government, but one in seven had less than 20% of users and carers on personal budgets, found the survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Think Local Act Personal Partnership.

Overall, an estimated 35% of eligible users and carers – those receiving council-funded support in a community setting – were on personal budgets as of April 2011, with the number of budget holders, almost 340,000, doubling since April 2010.

However, councils have a long way to go to meet a target set by the coalition to have all eligible users on personal budgets by April 2013.

“It is a significant achievement for councils to have exceeded the 30% target for all eligible people to receive a personal budget by March 2011,” said Adass president Peter Hay. “Progress is varied and it’s time for all councils to step up to the plate if we are to achieve the 100% target by April 2013.”

The survey results come with significant questions being asked about the future of personalisation in the face of budget cuts and the bureaucracy that some councils have applied to the implementation process. A Community Care and Unison survey of social care professionals found just 41% believed personalisation would benefit service users in the long-term, compared with 67% for a similar survey in 2009.

Hay added: “We recognise this is a very testing period for councils in managing the difficult financial environment and its consequences. It is crucial that we maintain momentum in promoting personalisation and self-directed support by taking greater individual and collective responsibility for the delivery of key aspects of policy.”

The figures show that two-thirds of personal budgets were managed by local authorities, as opposed to given to service users as a direct payment, despite government calls for councils to make direct payments the preferred method of delivering personal budgets.

In addition, managed personal budgets accounted for almost all of the 100,000 increase in personal budgets in the second half of 2010-11.

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