The notion of personalization is a relatively recent one in social care. It is generally taken to mean ensuring that people who receive support remain central to and in control of the process by which they receive it; the aim is to enable them to live their lives as they choose. Fundamental to the idea of personalization is the use of individual or personal budgets and direct payments. The terms ‘individual budget’ and ‘personal budget’ are frequently used interchangeably, although there is a difference between them. Initially, it was intended by government that individual budgets would combine money from different funding streams such as Supporting People and the independent living fund, but in practice this encountered difficulties (Glendinning et al., 2008). A personal budget contains only money from local authorities’ community care funding. People who are eligible for a personal or individual budget can choose whether to take it as cash (direct payment), as services brokered by an adviser or as services commissioned by a local authority.
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