Adult social services chiefs have questioned government claims that councils have missed the target of having 70% of service users on personal budgets by April 2013.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health said it was “disappointing that councils have missed our agreed 2013 target for provision of personal budgets“, in response to figures on take-up released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). These showed that 55.6% of council-funded users of community services or services for carers received a personal budget from 1 April 2012 to March 31 2013; among carers alone the figure was slightly higher at 59.3%.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) is conducting its own survey of personal budget uptake as of April 2013, and “early results against targets are more optimistic than the HSCIC data suggest”, said Martin Farran, joint chair of Adass’s personalisation network.
He added: “We have raised objections in the past about the way the HSCIC figures include in their base people who would never be eligible for a personal budget. Our base figures refers only to people who would be eligible – hence the disparity.”
The HSCIC figures also cover 2012-13 as a whole, rather than a snapshot taken at the end of the financial year, as the Adass survey provides. The disparity was evident last year, when Adass’s survey found 53% of users were on personal budgets as of the end of March 2012, whereas the HSCIC put the figure at 43% for 2011-12.
The government reduced its previous 100% target for personal budget rates by April 2013 to 70% last year, partly in response to Adass’s concerns that significant numbers of people who received council services could not be eligible for a personal budget.
The association had also warned that the 100% target had created perverse incentives by encouraging councils to move people on to council-managed personal budgets without providing them with genuine choice and control over their support.