Individual budget pilots struggle to attract education funding for famillies with disabled children

A government pilot aiming to give families of disabled children control over money allocated to them struggled to get funding from education sources, according to an evaluation.

Six local authorities are testing individual budgets for families with disabled children, which allow families to pool money from social care, health and education sources into their accounts to use as they choose.

But an evaluation of the pilots, commissioned by the former Department for Children, Schools and Families, said securing education funding had been particularly difficult, while getting significant investment from primary care trusts (PCTs) had also proved challenging.

The report, examning the pilots in Coventry, Derbyshire, Essex, Gateshead, Gloucestershire and Newcastle, said: “Although progress had been made with some of the PCT fund holders, they had only contributed limited funds, most of which carried restrictions. However, the biggest barriers were encountered during attempts to draw in education funding streams, where only one site had really made any form of progress.”

The report said one pilot “felt their their education colleagues had distanced themselves from the individual budget work, as they did not feel that personalisation was relevant to their area of work”.

But the research said some of the pilots had been successful in broadening the scope of their individual packages “beyond social care funds”.

It concluded that overall good progress had been made by the pilots and the range of families involved suggested that “if explained properly, individual budgets can be attractive across the social spectrum and to families with young people facing a wide range of disabilities”.