Evidence and initiatives for integrating personal budgets for people with mental health problems

Because integrating personal budgets is a relatively new initiative, evidence is still emerging about the impact they might have on people’s health and wellbeing.

However, evidence suggests that people with mental health problems can benefit significantly from having increased choice and control over their care, because their needs tend to cross boundaries between health and social care. [14]

This section discusses some of the evidence from a recent evaluation of personal health budgets. [15] It also describes some recent initiatives by government to promote the integration of services around an individual’s needs.

Personal health budgets pilots, 2009-12

Personal health budgets were launched by the Department of Health in 2009 following the publication of the 2008 ‘Next stage review’. [16] They were piloted and evaluated until 2012 with the following key findings. For an example of a pilot in one area of the UK, see Practice example 7: The Northamptonshire personal health budget pilot.


Health and wellbeing



Initiatives to promote integration at the level of the individual

Integrated care and support are now high on the government’s agenda. In the June 2013 spending round it announced the £3.8 billion Better Care Fund (formerly the Integration Transformation Fund) to ensure a transformation in integrated health and social care. The Fund is a single pooled budget to support health and social care services to work more closely together in local areas. [20] Many areas are considering the use of integrated personal budgets as a central part of their plans.

In 2013 the government announced 14 ‘Integration Pioneer’ sites, which would be supported to develop innovative ways of creating change in the health service, which the government and national partners want to see spread across the country. Many of the sites are experimenting with integrating personal budgets as a way to reduce pressure on acute services.

Building on the evaluation of the personal health budgets pilots, the Care Act 2014 gives people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding a ‘right to ask’ for a personal health budget. They may also request a direct payment for health care. The ‘right to ask’ became a ‘right to have’ in October 2014.

NHS England recently set out plans for a new Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) programme, which will promote the integration of personal budgets for various groups of patients, including people with severe and enduring mental health problems. This programme builds on the ongoing work on personal budgets for patients eligible for ‘Continuing Healthcare ’ funding, the ‘Year of Care’ pilots and the work of the Integrated Pioneer sites.