Magazine article Public Finance

Individual Budget Pilot Schemes Launched

Magazine article Public Finance

Individual Budget Pilot Schemes Launched

Article excerpt

Social care minister Liam Byrne has taken the first step towards giving elderly and disabled people budgets to buy their own care services, with the launch of 13 pilot schemes this week.

The pilots, which will start next year with £2.6m funding, will run for between 18 months and two years and test different ways to implement individual budgets with a variety of client groups.

The individual budgets scheme - promised in Labour s election manifesto - is part of the government's choice' agenda, allowing elderly and disabled people to purchase their choice of services from a range of public, private and voluntary sector providers.

Handing budgets to service users could stimulate the market for providers, Byrne said. 'In theory, there could be quite big changes to the supply side of social care... potentially quite big implications for the social care market. It will probably also entail the development of new services.'

The minister acknowledged that very few people have taken up direct payments, where disabled people are given cash in lieu of social services provision. He believed take-up for the new individual budgets would be better because of a 'dramatic increase in scope'.

The budgets will bring together six different income streams from the Department of Health, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, including the Supporting People, Access to Work and Independent Living programmes. …

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