Impacts of ‘Personal Budgets for Adult Social Care’ / Essex County Council


This is one of our older projects: Essex was one of the first areas in the UK to offer ‘personal budgets for adult social care’. Prior to this, local authorities would dictate what form of care a person received, and when. The new initiative allocated individual budgets directly to recipients. As such, Essex County Council (ECC) and Essex Coalition for Disabled People (ECDP) wanted to know: what are the actual impacts of personal budgets for adult social care? And what would make the budgets more effective? The video above features case study participants Miriam & Nico, an elderly couple with poor eyesight, hearing and mobility. For these case studies, we used the ‘co-discovery’ interview technique, where the participant views and comments on the observational footage we’ve already recorded. Our research focused on people’s experiences of: day-to-day practicalities, information and administration, and overall impact on life. Our insights fed into a written report by the Office for Public Management, and the case studies have since been used as an educational tool for frontline staff and new service users.


“We were very pleased with the results. The time you invested getting to know and listen to some of the disabled and older people in Essex really paid off. We were able to see and hear directly the reality of people’s lives, and share the resulting in-depth insights with staff at all levels in the council. Grounded in solid research, it was a powerful approach that helped create a strong case for making things better than we ever could have done alone.”

– Director, Essex Coalition for Disabled People (ECDP)