Personal Budgets and Direct Payments: 2014 overview
81% of people receiving community-based services receive a Personal Budget, but of those only 24% take that as a Direct Payment, reveals a new survey*.
A Personal Budget is an amount awarded to individuals to pay for care services based on need following an assessment by their local authority. This fund is used to purchase the required care package. The fund can either be controlled and spent by the local authority, who will organise the agreed services and pay for them directly; it can be given directly to a third party to supply the agreed services; or it can be paid to the service users themselves so that they can purchase their own care package, as agreed in their care plan with the local authority. This last option is called a Direct Payment.
The survey also showed that younger people receiving a Personal Budget, were more likely to get a Direct Payment than older people.
Personal Budgets form part of 'personalisation', the drive to make care and support services in the community more tailored towards individual needs, putting the choice in the hands of the service user. However, where the majority are still being controlled by local authorities, service users will be receiving care services from approved suppliers, potentially eliminating other providers in the community who can offer the services required.
Getting a Direct Payment means that the service user, in conjunction with their families and support teams, can look around for services that offer what they need and in the way that they need them. They can choose to contract with an individual paid carer or support worker, or employ them directly, meaning that they can determine exactly what services they are receiving, when and at what cost.
There are many possible reasons as to why less than a quarter of people with a Personal Budget receive a Direct Payment. It could be that the councils prefer to manage costs themselves, or it may be a lack of information for service users about the benefits of having a Direct Payment.
If you get a Personal Budget and are interested in getting it as a Direct Payment, then talk to your support team who can help you through the process. Once you have access to the funding yourself, then we can help you with all of the necessary steps to employ your own paid carer or support worker, if that is what you choose to do. Read our FAQs on hiring a paid carer here.