Joining up government by integrating funding streams? The experiences of the Individual Budget pilot projects for older and disabled people in England

Nicola Moran, Caroline Glendinning, Martin Stevens, Jill Manthorpe, Sally Jacobs, Mark Wilberforce, Martin Knapp, David Challis, José-Luis Fernández, Karen Jones, Ann Netten (2011)

International Journal of Public Administration 34 4 232-243

Available online: 9 March 2011

Individual Budgets (IBs) were piloted in 13 English local authorities during 2005-2007. Similar to personal budgets and “cash-for-care” schemes in other parts of Europe and beyond, IBs built upon previous English government initiatives to increase choice and control by users of adult social care services. A key aim of the IB pilots was to bring together resources from different funding streams to which an individual was entitled, and integrate or align those funding streams, thereby reducing the number of assessments and reviews; then allow those resources to be spent flexibly according to individual wishes and needs. IBs, available only to those eligible for adult social care services and support, could include resources from up to five other funding streams which, among them, were the responsibility of three different government departments: Access to Work, Disabled Facilities Grants, Integrated Community Equipment Services, Independent Living Funds, and Supporting People. Qualitative interviews with IB lead officers and funding stream lead officers formed part of the larger evaluation of the IB pilots (IBSEN study) and revealed deep disappointment that only minimal progress with integration had been possible, with the exception of Supporting People. This article explores possible reasons for the failure to integrate funding streams despite strong aspirations at local and national levels: legislative barriers; continuing accountability to individual funding streams; concerns over destabilizing the market; and concerns over the budgetary implications of an expected increase in demand.