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Carers UK responds to Individual Budgets evaluation

27 February 2009
Carers UK has responded to a new evaluation of the impact on carers of the Individual Budget pilots 2006-2007.

Individual budgets are a form of self-directed support where individuals and their carers decide how their needs are met – this can include cash direct payments from their local authority, support at work or home adaptions.

The pilots were conducted between 2006 and 2007 and involved 13 local authorities.

The report summary states:

Some individuals reported 'improvements in the quality of family relationships' as the services they had arranged with their Individual Budgets allowed them to depend less on their carers.

However other carers, especially those managing Individual Budgets for service users with severe needs, said they had to take on more responsibilities for managing and co-ordinating care.

In other cases the method used to work out the level of specific Individual Budgets meant that those starting Individual Budgets ended up with less funding that before and had to depend on their carers more.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

"The personalisation of support services presents new and exciting opportunities to deliver greater flexibility and control to better fit around families needs. However, this new evidence shows that, whilst many carers report a significant improvement to quality of life for the people they care for, this often not matched by improvements to their own lives.

Carers UK research has shown that carers are often left, effectively running small businesses, with little support from local authorities. Service users may get better services, but, on top of their caring responsibilities, too many carers are struggling to navigate complex bureaucracy, overwhelmed with paperwork.

Benefits to service users should not come at the expense of their carers' quality of life, and we welcome the Minister, Phil Hope's, recognition that carers' needs must play a fundamental part in Individual Budget implementation.

Local authorities must now ensure that, in taking control of their support package, families are not left unsupported. Clear contingency plans must be put in place early and carers should have help with administration made available."

Phil Hope MP, Minister for Care Services, said:

"The six million carers in the UK are unsung heroes of our society. They are living proof that Britain is far from broken, and we must do everything we can to help them. Today's report is very encouraging. It shows that individual budgets can bring carers out of the shadows, improve their well-being and give them more control over their lives.

Local authorities need to remember that when they assess someone for an individual budget, their carer's needs must be taken into account."

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