SCIE media statement

Keeping personal budgets personal

Learning from the experiences of people with mental health problems - and their carers

17 February 2011

People with a mental health problem, who use personal budgets, need consistent contact with a worker who knows their circumstances. That’s the conclusion from a SCIE At a glance briefing published today, analysing people’s experiences is of using self-directed support and personal budgets. Another conclusion is that mental health providers need to provide better quality information on personal budget options available to service users.

Personal budgets have been in use, by a number of people with mental health problems, for some time. Among a number of findings, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) heard from personal budget-holders that they need clear information about how to use the funding. They also want consistent contact with one person throughout the time they are being assessed and during support planning and review. This person would understand their circumstances. Also, users want choice but can sometimes find that the social care and support market is not developed enough to allow a wider choice. They are generally able to manage their budgets, but often welcome support from others in a similar position.

Also published today is a fuller report on personal budgets for older people and those with mental health problems. The briefing highlights some of the main mental health findings from this report.

SCIE’s Director of Adult Services, David Walden, says:

Personal budgets and self directed support are an important aspect of providing more personalised services. This briefing, and other work, gives an overview of how well personal budgets are currently working for people with mental health problems. There are successes and challenges. One important message is that people who have personal budgets must be listened to so that they are really offered, and receive, the care and support they can choose and can control.

Joanne and David

Joanne cares for her husband David, who has depression. David’s personal budget saw him join an indoor bowling club in his local village and he now goes there three afternoons a week. David is able to tell people about his mental health problems and Joanne is reassured that his friends at the club would let her know if he was having problems. Joanne says: “I’ve got the confidence to know that I’ve got a couple of hours to myself and he’s safe.

The briefing has sections on:

The research also shows where progress is being made and can still be made.

Policy context

Think Local, Act Personal (341kb PDF file) is a sector-wide commitment to moving forward with personalisation and community-based support. In November 2010, the Government’s Vision for Social Care set out a new direction for adult social care, putting people, personalised services and outcomes centre stage and returning social care to its foundations of reciprocity and constructive action by individuals on behalf of the whole community. It sets a challenge for councils to provide a personal budget, preferably as a direct payment, for everyone who is eligible by April 2013.


Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email:


The six month study involved five local authorities, 69 users, 40 practitioners and managers and 12 support provider organisations. The research was commissioned from a joint team from Acton Shapiro, the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) and the Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU). The IBSEN national evaluation of the 13 Department of Health individual budgets pilot sites concluded that although individual budgets could give people a greater sense of control and satisfaction with services, there were differences in the uptake and outcomes for older people and people with mental health problems (Glendinning et al 2008). Today’s research explores these findings in more depth.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) is an independent charity that works across the UK to improve care services by sharing knowledge about what works.  SCIE: