Personal budgets: carers must have a real choice

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb, speaking at The Trust's fringe event

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb, speaking at The Trust's fringe event

They came in their droves. 10 minutes before the start of our event at the Lib Dem conference, we had already run out of seats and indeed people were having to stand outside. It seemed that personalising health and social care was a popular topic.

Tim Luckhurst chaired our event with Norman Lamb MP representing the Liberal Democrats. Tim recently lost his father to Motor Neurone Disease and praised the help his family received from their Carers’ Centre, so was a very able advocate. We also saw a video of a carer explaining the benefits and problems with having a budget to choose the care you receive rather than being given a care package.

It became clear that many delegates felt that the type of information, advocacy and brokerage that Carers’ Centres could provide are wholly necessary if people are able to manage their own care support. Choice is not real choice if it is not informed.

It was also made clear that carers must have a choice; the burden of managing a budget and organising care should not be dumped on the carer. Don, the carer in the video, explained how he was able to buy respite but then spent it doing paperwork!

And finally, people must have the choice to say no. Some people do not want to manage their own care and would rather social services provided them with a package. This is also linked to local authorities and health bodies ensuring that there is a range of services available for people to choose from.

Norman Lamb was quick to agree that for the Lib Dems personal budgets can give people more choice but that real choice meant informed choice and the choice of saying no. An important point was also made by two of his fellow Lib Dem MPs that services finding and identifying carers cannot be lost, or they won’t even get the chance to make any choices.

Take Care


September 23, 2009 - Posted by | Liberal Democrats, Party Conferences | , , , ,


  1. As much as the govt are pushing ahead with these schemes, we have to ensure that those who do not qualify for care packages still have a place to go.
    Most LAs’ have tightened the eligibility bands wherein only those with critical and substantial needs are provided with a service.As these numbers increase therein lies a bigger problem as this results in attendance numbers at local day centres decreasing and many are closed.

    Comment by Rosemary | September 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. There are too many carers living in rural areas who do not realize that they are a carer.
    The major problems are finding them and letting them no the choices that are available, but I wonder will the workers let them no that they can say NO to direct payments?

    Comment by Wendy Chill4us | September 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. Gordon, I lost my father to MN, not my mother. I’ll be very grateful if you can update the initial post to reflect this.

    Comment by Tim Luckhurst | October 4, 2009 | Reply

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