Personal budgets in social care give care users more control over their care by enabling them to purchase their own support according to their needs. A critical element of the previous Government's vision of a more personalised and empowering national care service, the national roll-out of personal budgets was set as a priority for local authorities in 2007. At present, 13 per cent of care users have a personal budget.
But now, under a new government, there is increased momentum for change. The Care Minister, Paul Burstow, has urged local authorities to rapidly improve personal budget take up so that they exceed the target of 30 per cent of care users on personal budgets by April 2011. Personal budgets look likely to form the centrepiece of the Coalition's care reform.
This requires both local authorities and care providers to adjust to rapid change, with large numbers of care users switching to personal budgets in a short space of time. Yet the intelligence on personal budget spending remains limited. Without better information, councils and providers alike risk being unprepared for the change and uncertain how to respond. The data presented in this report goes some way towards filling this knowledge gap, and is required reading for those preparing themselves for a revolution in social care delivery.