Do personal budgets increase the risk of abuse? Evidence from English national data

Ismail M, Hussein S, Stevens M, Woolham J, Manthorpe J, Aspinal F, Baxter K, Samsi K

Journal of Social Policy 2017, 46, 2: 291—311

Available online 9 Sep 2016

Abstract

With the continued implementation of the personalisation policy, Personal Budgets (PBs) have moved to the mainstream in adult social care in England. The relationship between the policy goals of personalisation and safeguarding is contentious. Some have argued that PBs have the potential to empower recipients, while others believe PBs, especially Direct Payments, might increase the risk of abuse.

This paper provides empirical evidence about levels of uptake of PBs and safeguarding referrals in England based on in-depth analysis of national data at aggregate, local council level in England, covering 152 Councils. This is complemented by analysis of 2,209 individual referral records obtained from three purposively selected study sites. The aim is to explore whether available data could provide evidence of association between the uptake of PBs and safeguarding referrals. Analysis of the national dataset found no significant relationships between PB uptake and the level and type of alleged abuse. However, analysis of individual-level referral data, from the three selected sites did find some significant associations particularly with financial abuse; and found the main perpetrators of the alleged abuse to be home-care employees. The findings are discussed within the context of current policy and practice.