Older people's experiences of cash-for-care schemes: evidence from the English individual budget pilot projects

Nicola Elizabeth Moran, Caroline Glendinning, Mark Robson Wilberforce, Martin Stevens, Ann Netten, Karen Jones, Jill Manthorpe, Martin Knapp, Jose-Luis Fernandez, David Challis, Sally Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cash-for-care schemes offering cash payments in place of conventional social services are becoming commonplace in developed welfare states, however, there is little evidence about the impact of such schemes on older people. This paper reports on the impact and outcomes for older people of the recent English Individual Budget (IB) pilot projects (2005-07). It presents quantitative data on outcome measures from structured interviews with 263 older people who took part in a randomised controlled trial and findings from semi-structured interviews with 40 older people in receipt of IBs and with IB project leads in each of the 13 pilot sites. Older people spent their IBs predominantly on personal care, with little resources left for social or leisure activities, and had higher levels of psychological ill-health, lower levels of wellbeing, and worse self-perceived health than older people in receipt of conventional services. The qualitative interviews provide insights into these results. Potential advantages of IBs included increased choice and control, continuity of care worker, and the ability to reward some family carers. However, older people reported anxieties about the responsibility of organising their own support and managing their budget. For older people to benefit fully from cash-for-care schemes they need sufficient resources to purchase more than basic personal care, and access to help and advice in planning and managing their budget.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-851
Number of pages26
JournalAgeing & Society
Issue number5
Early online date23 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • older people
  • individual budgets
  • social care
  • services

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