National Audit Office
Oversight of User Choice and Provider Competition in Care Markets: Department of Health, and Local Authority Adult Social Services
HC 1458, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Session 2010-12
- National Audit Office (NAO)
The report 'Oversight of User Choice and Provider Competition in Care Markets: Department of Health, and Local Authority Adult Social Services (HC 1458)' warns that shortcomings must be addressed if value for money is to be secured in the future for users of social care "personal budgets".
Most people who use personal budgets report improved wellbeing, but:
more needs to be done to ensure that care markets deliver a genuine choice of services to all users;
support should be available to help users exercise choice and essential services relied on by vulnerable people; and
care should continue to be provided in the event of the failure of a major provider (the recent Southern Cross example illustrated this last requirement).
Some people are using their personal budgets in innovative ways, such as pooling them with others to pay jointly for a personal assistant to help with their care needs, but others have found buying care for themselves difficult.
Some local authorities report that personal budgets have led to achieving better value for money in social care, but the overall impact on cost has not been evaluated. Local authorities are also responsible for those that fund their own care if they run out of money.
Personal budgets will be extended to all eligible users by April 2013. The NAO estimates that the total cost to the taxpayer of the state having to pay for self-funders who run out of money could rise from £0.5 billion to £1 billion per year by 2035.
The Department of Health is responsible for overall social care policy, but it has few means of influencing the way that local authorities deliver care.
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