The costs of change: a case study of the process of implementing individual budgets in 13 pilot local authorities in England

Karen Jones, Ann Netten (2010)

Health and Social Care in the Community 18 1 51-58

Available online: 22 July 2009

Individual budgets form a key element in the objective of the English Government to promote independence among people with needs for social care support. The initiative was designed to provide greater user control but the wider consequences, in terms of the implications for local authorities and their other responsibilities, remain to be addressed. An evaluation of the implementation of individual budgets in 13 local authorities was funded by the Department of Health, using a mixed methods approach to explore the impact of individual budgets both in terms of service user experiences and the implications for the local authority social services. One aspect of the evaluation concentrated on the cost implications of implementing individual budgets for the local authorities. All pilot local authorities were invited to take part in an interview designed to obtain the resources required to implement individual budget. Twelve of the 13 local authorities were part of the study reported in this article. All quantitative analysis was carried out using SPSS 13. Excluding all expenses that might be at least in part associated with the pilot process, in the first year, the estimated mean average cost was £290 000 (median £270 000). This article will describe the initial approach adopted in estimating set-up costs, followed by a description of the findings for the first year of implementation and likely subsequent set-up costs. We also identify the range of factors that might affect reported costs.