Personal budget pilot areas unveiled

The 13 pilot sites to test individual budgets for older and disabled people were announced this week, with six different funding streams included and more expected.

Care services minister Liam Byrne said the pilot areas would set up their own mechanisms for delivering the budgets and were expected to submit their plans by next spring.

He hoped the pilots would address three issues: whether the arrangements could be delivered within existing budgets; the support needed to help people choose care packages; and how a suitable providers’ market could be established.

The six funds included so far in the pilots are council-provided social care services, Supporting People, the independent living fund, disabled facilities grant, integrated community equipment services and access to work. But Byrne said he was talking to government colleagues about including other funding streams.

“This is going to be a sea-change in social care,” he said. “We need to understand what we have to do over the long term to make sure the social care market changes.”

Jenny Anderton, assistant director of learning disabilities at Barnsley Council, one of the pilots, said the most important task would be to change the culture of providers.

Meanwhile, a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research has proposed introducing a statutory duty on councils to provide help to people using individual budgets.

Byrne said this was being looked at as part of talks on the forthcoming social care and health white paper.

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