Can individual budgets have a positive impact on carers and the caring role?

Karen Jones, Ann Netten, Parvaneh Rabiee, Caroline Glendinning, Hilary Arksey, Nicola Moran (2014)

Ageing and Society 34 1 157-175

Available online: 17 October 2012

The introduction of cash-for-care schemes such as individual or personal budgets in England has been seen as central to the personalisation agenda for reforming the delivery of adult social care. However, despite there being 5.2 million carers in England and Wales, the initiative concentrates predominantly on the needs of the service user. The implementation of individual budgets (IBs) was piloted within 13 local authorities during 2005–2007 and the Department of Health commissioned an independent evaluation of this pilot (IBSEN). The focus was only on the service user in the evaluation and therefore a separate but linked study was set up to evaluate the impact and outcomes of IBs on carers. Carers of service users who had consented to take part in the main IBSEN study were identified and invited to participate in a follow-up study aimed at exploring how IBs impacted on carers and the caring role. The study found that the receipt of the budget was significantly associated with positive impacts on carers' reported quality of life and, when other factors were taken into account, with social care outcomes. These outcome gains were achieved despite no higher costs being incurred to the public purse, thus suggesting that IBs for service users are cost-effective for carers.