The Care Act 2014 introduces personal budgets into law for the first time, setting out how much money is available to meet an individual’s care needs, how much they will need to contribute themselves and how that contribution has been calculated. The intention is to assist individuals in taking greater control over their lives, by making informed choices about their care.
A local authority should be able to integrate health and social care issues more effectively, thus ensuring that the individual requiring care gets the best possible care for their needs.
There are three key principles behind personal budgets:
- Transparency – local authorities need to make people aware that personal budgets are an option
- Timeliness – it is important to ascertain what an individual’s ‘indicative budget’ will be as soon as possible in order to plan for care that relies on the personal budget
- Sufficiency – the money that is to be made available must be sufficient to cover any care needs that have been established and are being procured.
Once a personal budget has been established, it can be deployed in one of three ways:
- As a managed account held by the local authority – providing support in accordance with the wishes of the individual;
- As a managed account, managed by a third party ‘individual service fund’; or
- As a direct payment
Personal budgets can be complicated, but with the proper advice and support, they allow someone with care needs to have far more options and greater control over how those care needs will be met, while decreasing pressure on the more traditional care system.