This important milestone survey targeted a representative group of councils, as well being open to all councils and aimed to capture:

  • experiences and progress on implementing personal budgets
  • commitment, confidence and actions to rolling out personal budgets by 2013
  • communication and workforce development to encourage awareness and take up of self-directed support or direct payments
  • risk management approaches
  • financial accounting systems, and
  • market shaping capabilities.

The survey concluded “councils are generally making good progress towards universal personal budgets by 2013 and are confident they will achieve this target”, with  councils indicating  that there is now significant promotion and communication of direct payments and that they have taken structured measures (mainstreaming, re-engineering of services, identified new suppliers and staff training and development) to achieve this.

Underpinning this headline, there are seven key messages for further consideration through the mechanisms of sector-led improvement supported by ADASS and TLAP. The seven key messages are:

  • councils have pointed out the restrictions of the definition of the NI130 denominator which needs adjustment to realistically reflect all eligible clients
  • most councils lack the evidence base for the cost effectiveness of advisory and brokerage support services, though indicators for outcomes are well articulate
  • there is proactive investment in communication plans, staff training and development to ensure that  individuals are aware of the universal offer
  • some councils encourage a positive risk-taking culture, but there was a paucity of information on mitigating measure
  • financial accounting capability to individual levels is patchy. Whilst trying to achieve fully integrated accounting systems some respondents felt these pose both challenges and risks to the servic
  • some councils do not fully understand market development and confuse market analysis with market shaping. The spectrum of market activity is broad, but the majority of councils are stimulating new models, whilst some are encouraging new market players. It is noted that this council viewpoint on the supply and range of personalised support needs to be checked against the perception of service user
  • some councils have not extended brokerage and advocacy services to self-funders.