SCIE Report 36: Enabling risk, ensuring safety: Self-directed support and personal budgets


'An essential part of support planning is to consider acceptable levels of risk… Options range from a light-touch approach, through risk enablement panels, to a full adult safeguarding process.' (Rowlett 2009)

Risk enablement panels

Risk enablement panels are a way of helping with challenging or complex decisions which may occur as part of the support plan validation process. The emphasis is on supporting positive risk taking while maintaining duty of care and decisions are made in a shared and informed way, with transparent, shared responsibility.

Local authorities which have been at the forefront of establishing self-directed support and personal budgets as part of standard social care and support, such as Essex, Oldham, Stockport, Manchester, Hartlepool and Newham, have set up risk enablement panels as part of developing a culture that is more accepting and enabling of risk.

In their risk enablement policy, Essex County Council recognise that a major factor inhibiting achieving good outcomes for people in relation to choice and control is operating within a system where there is a fear of putting the organisation at risk (financially, in terms of public relations, reputation or in breach of the law).

Therefore it is important to spend time with the individual to develop a good support plan with a completed risk assessment. High quality and clear information is required to help people make informed choices. Appropriate intervention and advocacy services should be used for those with language or sensory needs to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Explore the links below to learn more about risk enablement panels:

Further reading


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  • SCIE Report 36: Enabling risk, ensuring safety: Self-directed support and personal budgets