Government pilots to provide disabled people with personal budgets integrating a number of funding streams failed to deliver any benefit, an evaluation has found.
Researchers did not find any evidence that the Right to Control pilots had had a positive impact on disabled people either in terms of their experiences of applying for and organising services, or in terms of their day-to-day lives.
Right to Control was designed to enable disabled people to pool resources from up to six funding streams – adult social care, Supporting People, Independent Living Fund, Disabled Facilities Grant, Work Choice and Access to Work – and exercise choice and control over how the combined budget was spent. It was tested in seven trailblazer areas: Barnet, Essex, Leicester, Manchester, Newham, Greater Manchester, Sheffield and Barnsley, and parts of Surrey, starting in 2010 and running until December 2013.
No positive impact
The research team, from Ipsos Mori, Bryson Purdon Social Research and Matrix Knowledge, compared outcomes for 1,624 people in trailblazer areas with a comparison group of 1,658 disabled people in face-to-face interviews from September to December 2012.
Despite one of Right to Control’s key objectives being to improve choice and control, 29% of clients in Right to Control areas said they had “as much control as they wanted” over their daily lives, compared with 31% in the comparison group. People’s level of wellbeing were also assessed using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, for which trailblazer customers had an average score of 43.4 and non-trailblazer customers an average of 43.5.
The main suggested reasons for the lack of impact was that, in practice, Right to Control did not work as intended, and many service users received the same service they would have done before. Although in one area, people found to be probably eligible for any of the six funding streams received a single, multi-disciplinary assessment across all six, in the other areas, people received separate assessments.
Quality of support planning “varied considerably”
Researchers also found that the quality of support planning “varied considerably” across the trailblazers, with many clients feeling that they were limited in exploring alternative forms of support. Staff were either not aware of alternative sources of support or the market in such support was not available.
Researchers said that Right to Control was most effective when:
- Staff explicitly told disabled people that they could make changes to their support;
- Disabled people received a meaningful choice of provision and information with which to make informed choices;
- Disabled people received help in arranging their support.
In its disability strategy published last month, the government said it was considering the evaluation findings and would announce whether it planned to roll out Right to Control in due course.
Guide to direct payments and personal budgets