Personalised budgets result in better outcomes and lower costs for councils, according to research published today by think-tank Demos.
The Making it Personal Demos study on self-directed support found personalised budgets led to average council savings of 10% on care packages and achieved greater service user satisfaction than traditional services.
The study, launched at a conference, claimed the scheme could “transform” social care as well as other public services including maternity, mental health and drug and offender rehabilitation services.
Better quality of life
The survey of nearly 200 service users across 17 local authorities found more than three-quarters of service users said their quality of life had improved since starting on self-directed support, while 72% said they had more choice and control over their lives.
Service users also reported improvements in personal dignity, feeling safe and secure at home, spending time with people they liked, participation in community life and economic wellbeing. Overall, just 5% of people believe their lives had worsened in any way.
The average personal budget care package was £14,343, compared to an average cost of £15,638 for similar individuals under the traditional model. In the most expensive cases, savings could be up to 45%.
But the study by Demos warned councils against switching to self-directed services as a “cost-cutting measure” and said proper planning was needed.
No quick fix
“There is a danger that policy-makers and politicians at all levels underestimate the scale of change involved in moving to self-directed services. The risk is that they will see it as a quick fix to move people to personal budgets without adequate support planning, staff training and communication,” the study said.
By the end of 2007, more than 100 local authorities were members of the in Control scheme, a prominent model of self-directed services that began piloting in 2003.