SCIE Report 40: Keeping personal budgets personal: learning from the experiences of older people, people with mental health problems and their carers

Managing the personal budget

Support arrangements

In all the case study sites there were providers offering personal budget holders support to manage their personal budgets, but the number and nature of these organisations varied. In most sites there were just one or two organisations providing direct support but one area had taken the decision to allow the development of a number of support providers. Most providers had some grant funding (usually linked to their information and support planning roles) but all made a charge for some of their services (e.g. payroll).

Where providers have to charge personal budget holders directly for their services, there was a concern that some personal budget holders are reluctant to use them. However, most personal budget holders and carers viewed paying for support in the same way as paying for a service in any other area of their life, and had no problems with it. Some contributors even felt that if personal budget holders were choosing to spend part of their budget on support services this increased their purchasing power and ability to make choices. Generally, provider organisations offered a 'menu' of support and people chose the level of support they felt they needed or were willing to pay for. Charges were usually paid monthly and varied according to the level of support. Some providers had found ways of making it easier for personal budget holders to use their services.

None of the provider organisations charged for more general support such as ad hoc advice over the telephone, providing information or peer support activities. personal budget holders and carers indicated that access to this 'free' informal support was important in terms of the sense of security it gave them, but also because it helped to build a positive relationship with the provider concerned.