Minster defends second set of ‘individual budget’ pilots

Fresh pilots are needed to examine how self-directed support can be implemented for disabled people, despite the trialling of individual budgets (IBs) from 2005-7, the disability minister has said.

In an interview with Community Care, Jonathan Shaw said Department for Work and Pensions plans to test how disabled people can take control of state resources spent on them were justified because lessons remained to be learned.

Former social worker

The former social worker was speaking after a consultation was launched on providing disabled people with a “right to control” funding for services including social care, supported housing, employment support and housing adaptations.

This will be piloted in eight “trailblazer” areas for two to three years from 2010 onwards.

The idea is similar to the Department of Health’s IB pilots – an evaluation of which was published last year.

Direct payments

For instance, people will be told how much funding they are eligible for and will be able to take it as a direct payment or leave it to public bodies to manage.

Money will be pooled from a range of sources, including many of the funding streams used in the IB pilots: social care, Supporting People, Disabled Facilities Grant, Independent Living Funds and Access to Work.

The consultation paper also asks a range of questions about implementing self-directed support in general.

Withdrawing from service

These include, what should happen when a service that some people want to use is put at risk if other users withdraw from it, and how individuals can receive sufficient support and advocacy to exercise choice.

With councils rolling out personal budgets for social care users as part of the DH’s personalisation agenda, organisations including the National Centre for Independent Living have questioned the rationale for the “right to control” trailblazers.

But “individual budgets and direct payments are not everywhere,” Shaw said. “We need to really drill down on the potential competing demands [in implementing self-directed support].”

All disabled, not just care users

  1. Unlike IBs, the “right to control” will apply to all disabled people, not just social care users, and be enshrined in law by the current Welfare Reform Bill.

Shaw said the legislation would help tackle the legal and administrative barriers to integrating funding streams identified by the evaluation of the IB pilots.

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