Cut bureaucracy for service users, councils told

Restrictions on how service users spend personal budgets should be lifted, say sector leaders.

Restrictions on how service users spend personal budgets should be lifted, say sector leaders.

A string of reports published this week by Think Local Act Personal, the sector coalition set up to support the delivery of personalisation, describes councils’ approach to implementation as over-restrictive and mistakenly introduced to save money.

This has restricted creativity and efficiency, said TLAP programme manager Martin Routledge. “They have other means of controlling how money is allocated, they don’t need to place conditions on people.”

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Outcomes for service users on personal budgets were generally better when they were relatively free of constraints on how they spent money, found the TLAP-commissioned National Personal Budgets Survey published earlier this year.

In particular, TLAP wants to see restrictions lifted on the use of direct payments in order to increase take-up. The personal budgets survey found that people on direct payments enjoyed better outcomes in general than those on council-managed personal budgets.

However, nearly all of the increase in personal budget numbers in 2010-11 in England came in the form of council-managed budgets, according to a separate survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

Routledge said the government’s target of having all people on personal budgets by 2013 with a significant proportion on direct payments was “clearly a challenge” on current trends.

The reports were released at this week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference.

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