Personal Budgets and Supported Employment

Year of Publication: 

NDTi has conducted some new research to find out more about the use of Personal Budgets (PBs) for employment support. The research explored two questions:

  1. To what extent are people using PBs to purchase support into paid work?
  2. What factors encourage and discourage the use of PBs to help people gain or retain a job?

The findings of this research are based on survey responses from 58 providers of employment support, and one to one interviews with 32 people, including people who have used PBs for employment support, family members, employment support providers, care managers/social workers and commissioners.

The survey of employment support providers found that:

  • Only a third of employment support providers had received any income from PBs in the past 18 months
  • The average number of people using PBs in each organisation was just three people
  • This confirms the findings indicated in NDTi’s previous research that there is limited use of social care Personal Budgets to support disabled people to gain or retain paid work.

We identified four clear factors that prevent or discourage greater use of Personal Budgets for employment support:

  1. Low demand from individuals or families
  2. Professional attitudes towards employment
  3. The Personal Budget process
  4. Availability of good, evidence-based employment support

In response to the findings from the research, NDTi has highlighted four areas that need attention:

  1. Improved information advice and guidance to help increase people and families’ knowledge about and aspiration to achieve work by using PBs.
  2. Social workers and local authorities reviewing their approaches so that they recognise and give priority to paid work as an important social work outcome.
  3. Social work and PB assessments specifically considering work as an outcome, so that funding is identified for it through the RAS/PB process.
  4. Commissioners taking market development action to ensure there are evidence based employment services available for people to buy.

Our core recommendation is that there should be the right model of supported employment provision universally available and accessible for everyone in a local area - funded via a mixed provision of core funding (through, for example, a contract) with the addition of PBs. This is rather than solely funding supported employment provision by a contract or by PBs alone.