By Claire West

Everyone eligible will get a personal budget by 2013 so they can be in control of their own care and more carers will get breaks, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced today.

This is part of the Government’s plans for adult social care, A vision for adult social care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens, published today by the Department of Health.

Personal budgets give people and their carers greater choice and control over the social care services they receive. Users can tailor services to meet their specific needs and carers can use them to take a well earned break.

Personal budgets were introduced in 1996 but currently only 13 per cent of people who might need one have one. The Government expects councils to provide personal budgets to 1 million eligible people, preferably as a direct payment, by 2013.

The initiative can have huge benefits to people who need care. For example Lynn uses her personal budget to pay for an epilepsy seizure alert dog, Dougal. It means Lynn can now live independently, knowing that her dog will alert her to telltale signs of a seizure so she can get to a safe place free of hazards.

And carers can use their own personal budget to spend on taking a break from their caring responsibility - whether that’s time to pursue a hobby, take a holiday or have some time to themselves. The Government is making £400 million available through the NHS over the next four years to support carers breaks.

Paul Burstow said:

"Personal budgets can make an incredible difference to people's lives. They give people choice, control and independence. They look to people not the state to shape services, and improve outcomes, making a reality of the Big Society.

"I want councils to provide everyone eligible with a personal budget by 2013."

The vision sets out a new agenda for adult social care based on a power shift from the state to the citizen, by committing to:

• extend the rollout of personal budgets;
• increase preventative action in local communities, keeping people independent and helping to build the Big Society;
• break down barriers between health and social care funding; and
• encouraging care and support to be delivered in a partnership between individuals, communities, the voluntary sector, the NHS and councils - including wider support services, such as housing.

The vision is the first of three pieces of work, along with the forthcoming reports of the Law Commission next spring and the independent Commission on the Funding of Care and Support next summer, that will feed into the development of a White Paper on social care in autumn 2011, and future legislation.

Mr Burstow said:

"Social care is a vital service for many older, disabled and vulnerable people. It embraces the most intimate care and support for people at times of greatest need. How well we look after each other says a great deal about the strength and character of our society.

"Often people find the social care system confusing, inflexible and not suited to their needs — that’s not good enough. I want to see the vision brought into practice at a local level. Councils can offer more choice, control and flexibility over care, which is what people tell me they want."

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)
President Richard Jones said:

"We welcome the Vision and the framework it provides for the ongoing transformation of adult social care. The seven key principles within the Vision are ones that ADASS fully supports.

"ADASS is clear that further reform is needed to improve outcomes for people and their carers. We are committed to working with people as citizens, building on their assets and experience and providing real choice and control. We support a shift towards prevention and to enabling and encouraging community-based support. We want to secure a radical realignment of the way resources are used across public services, including the health service, to deliver agreed outcomes through integration and collaboration. Alongside proven partners we are determined to help support people to stay independent and in control of their lives.

"This new Vision will help underpin and promote these changes. It provides a strong platform for the proposals set out in the recently published, Think Local, Act Personal: Next Steps for Transforming Adult Social Care which ADASS helped produce and is co-signed by 21 other organisations."

National Director for Social Care Transformation, Jeff Jerome said:

"I am delighted that the Government's new vision for adult social care underlines the continuing need to personalise care and support arrangements and recognises the crucial importance of supporting families and communities as part of this. Personal budgets for all those entitled to publicly funded social care, underpinned by the right advice and support and a wider range of services, will allow such individuals and their carers to exercise better choice and control alongside those who already use their own money to this end."

Paul Burstow also today unveiled a new funding programme for charities and consortia of regional and/or local charities, as well as social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals to get involved in health and social care.

The National Grant Scheme for the Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund will make around £3 million available from April 2011 for groups who want to make a difference to people’s lives in their area. Groups will be invited to set up projects in key areas such as personal budgets, cutting smoking and encouraging healthy eating and each approved project could receive up to £200,000. Projects should operate across at least four localities in different regions or counties, but should differ substantially in scale and priorities from local projects.