No roll-out for scheme to provide disabled people with pooled personal budgets

New disability minister shelves Right to Control scheme after evaluation found no evidence of benefit for service users

Mark Harper, the minister for disabled people
Mark Harper, the minister for disabled people (Credit: Adrian Sherratt/Rex)

The government will not roll out a scheme to provide disabled people with integrated personal budgets after an evaluation found no evidence of improved outcomes.

Incoming minister for disabled people Mark Harper announced the decision not to roll out the Right to Control scheme in a written statement to Parliament last week.

Right to Control was designed to enable disabled people to pool resources from up to six funding streams – adult social care, Supporting People, Independent Living Fund, Disabled Facilities Grant, Work Choice and Access to Work – and exercise choice and control over how the combined budget was spent. It was tested in seven “trailblazer” areas from 2010-2013.

An evaluation published last year found outcomes for people using Right to Control, in relation to choice and control and wellbeing, were similar to people in a control group who were not using the scheme, meaning there was no evidence of positive impact.

The main suggested reasons for the lack of impact was that, in practice, Right to Control did not work as intended, and many service users received the same service they would have done before. Although in one area, people found to be probably eligible for any of the six funding streams received a single, multi-disciplinary assessment across all six, in the other areas, people received separate assessments.

In his statement last week, Harper said the government remained committed to giving disabled people greater choice and control over how public funding spent on them was used, and that duties to co-operate under the Care Act would enable the use of Right to Control-style approaches locally.

The Care Act places a duty on councils and partner agencies to cooperate in the delivery of care and support to people except where this would be detrimental to or incompatible with the fulfillment of other duties. Harper also said that the government intended to promote personalisation in the delivery of employment support services, through its disability and health employment strategy.

“Taking these changes into consideration together with the evaluation findings of the right to control pilot the government have decided not to roll out the right to control nationally,” said Harper.

However, the decision means there will be no provision to offer adults direct payments or personal budgets for funding streams other than adult social care or health, as would have been the case had Right to Control been rolled out.

Harper added that Right to Control had been valued by service users.

“While the evaluation of this pilot may not have resulted in any measurable impact on outcomes, it was popular with those individuals who exercised their right to control and they valued the greater flexibilities it gave them. It also acted as a catalyst to developing local relationships and partnerships,” he said.

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