Tuesday, 3 November 2015

You can have any colour, as long as it's council

This post is the third in a hasty series looking at what’s happening for people with learning disabilities in England, mainly using social care statistics for 2014/15 that have been recently released (see http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB18663 ) .

This short blogpost (just one graph) looks at social care personal budgets and adults with learning disabilities in England. As with the other statistics reported in this blog series, there have been some changes in the way statistics concerning self-directed support/personal budgets have been collected in 2014/15, but it is possible to produce some comparative data over time.

The graph below reports the number of adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 years who get: a direct payment only; a personal budget that partly involves a direct payment; or a council-managed personal budget (the statistics do not use categories such as Individual Service Funds). When interpreting this graph, it’s important to remember that up to 2013/14 these figures are based on adults with learning disabilities known to the council – in 2014/15 this changed to adults with learning disabilities getting long-term support from the council. As the first blog in this series discusses (http://chrishatton.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/the-disappeared.html ), this means that 141,980 adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 known to the council in 2013/14 became 124,235 adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 getting long-term social services support in 2014/15. This complicates how we can interpret the stark changes from 2013/14 to 2014/15.


We can ask a few questions about personal budgets on the basis of this information.

First, we can say overall that in 2013/14, 62% of adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 known to councils were using some form of personal budget, compared to 68% of adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 getting long-term support from councils in 2014/15. For the first time in 2014/15, we also have data for adults with learning disabilities aged 65+; of the 15,320 older people with learning disabilities getting long-term support, 7,045 (46%) were getting some form of personal budget.

What kind of personal budgets are adults with learning disabilities getting? Of the 83,995 adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 getting a personal budget in 2014/15, around a quarter (26%) were getting a direct payment only, fewer than that (16%) were getting a part-direct payment as part of a personal budget, and well over half (59%) were getting a council-managed personal budget. Of the 7,045 adults with learning disabilities aged 65+ getting a personal budget, only 9% were getting a direct payment only, even fewer (7%) were getting a part-direct payment as part of a personal budget, and almost everyone (84%) was getting a council-managed personal budget.

Second, what are the trends over time? Looking at 2009/10 to 2014/15 as a whole, the number of adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 getting any kind of personal budget has apparently massively increased, by 256% no less, over this time period. However, almost all of this increase has been in council-managed personal budgets (a whopping 909% increase) and to a lesser extent part-direct payment personal budgets (639%), with direct payment-only budgets only increasing by (cough) 27% over these 5 years.

Finally, what to make of the absolute reduction in the number of adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 getting personal budgets in 2014/15, a reversal of the trend from 2009/10 to 2013/14? Is this drop of 4,530 people getting personal budgets an artefact of the change from ‘known to council’ to ‘getting long-term support’ I mentioned earlier? If that is the case, then we must assume that all these 4,530 people were getting one-off personal budgets in 2013/14 – so why is almost all the drop in people getting council-managed personal budgets? It seems more reasonable to assume that, as reported in the recent In Control report (see http://www.in-control.org.uk/news/in-control-news/promoting-people%E2%80%99s-right-to-choice-and-control-under-the-care-act-2014.aspx ), councils are withdrawing service support, in this case from some adults with learning disabilities.

So (and I know this doesn’t apply to all councils by any means), we have a pattern of withdrawal of personal budgets, with most personal budgets managed by your friendly neighbourhood local authority. You can have any colour, as long as it’s council.

Sources

Health and Social Care Information Centre. Community Care Statistics, Social Services Activity, England 2014-15 http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB18663




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