Care minister, Norman Lamb, has dropped the target of 100% of service users to be on personal budgets by April 2013.
Lamb has announced at the National Children’s and Adults’ Services Conference, that the government has now said that councils must have 70% of service users on personal budgets by April 2013.
He has stressed that this is just the first step and not the final figure, and he is still committed to personalisation of all health and social care services.
The new target has been agreed as, following talks with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the government has decided that not all service users would suit having personal budgets
The latest figures show that 43% of eligible service users have a budget, although only a minority of them take the allocation in the form of a direct payment of cash. For most, the council manages the money on their behalf.
Critics of the original 100% target have said that this was unrealistic to expect all service users to adapt to this new approach, and to be capable of managing their own budget.
Sarah Pickup, Adass president, is please that the new target may mean the councils could focus on the outcomes instead of their main focus being to meet targets:
This will allow us to do the right thing and focus not just on chasing a number, but getting the best outcomes from these personal budgets.
Dilnot social care caps
Lamb also emphasised the commitment to the Dilnot commission’s proposals of a cap on the care costs, the urgency of which Lamb has mentioned recently but with no definite answers.
For the first time, he has publicly outlined an estimated timescale for introducing the key Dilnot proposal at a private meeting with councillors at the National Children’s and Adults’ Services Conference in Eastbourne last week.
My personal view is that we just have to get on and do Dilnot. We could achieve quite a significant breakthrough in the next two years.
However, he did not specify details on how the government would do so. There is still no definite outline for the level of the cap, whether it would be universal or voluntary, and an exact date when it would be implemented.
Improving Social Care
Lamb said he recognised the funding pressures local authorities were under in adult social care, but there was no mention of the changes in the 2013 government spending review.
He said that to improve care and manage the funding pressures, better use would have to be made of the combined resource of health and adult social care.
Lamb had high praise for the social care workforce, including social workers, and said he was still intent on appointing a principal social worker for adult social services in each council, whos role would be similar to a ward matron.