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Personal budgets: enabling choice & control for persons with disabilities

EASPD and the UNIC partners call on national and European decision-makers to further support the development and scaling up of these innovative and effective approaches.

On 13th September, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) welcomed representatives from across Europe to discuss the future of user-centred funding models. This conference, the final event of the EU-funded UNIC project on personal budgets,  aimed to capitalise on the current momentum to transform support. Personal budgets are a key tool to ensure persons with disabilities have choice and control over their support. Together, EASPD and the UNIC partners call on national and European decision-makers to further support the development and scaling up of these innovative and effective approaches.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) calls for a paradigm shift in the way in which care and support is organised,  enabling people with support needs to have choice and control over their lives and enabling the full inclusion and participation of all people in society. Furthermore, the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) and the European Care Strategy call for affordable long-term care and support services of good quality, and in particular home and community-based services. It is thus essential to develop and scale up funding tools to support this transition towards quality person-centred, inclusive, and community-based services.

This is what the UNIC project, with the support of co-funding from the European Union, has aimed to accomplish: supporting public authorities to develop, implement, and evaluate an innovative and effective funding model. This new approach must empower persons with long-term care and support needs and lead to more autonomy in decision-making, more choice and control over their own lives, and active participation in the development of services. With this model, public authorities distribute an amount of money directly to individuals with care and support needs, as well as advisory measures, enabling them to actively organise their own care and support services. Several countries and regions across Europe are exploring this model, but more support, in the form of funding and peer learning is needed to go beyond the piloting phases.

During the conference, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen emphasised the potential and importance of personal budgets for long-term care and confirmed that the European Parliament will prioritise further support for such innovative approaches. This importance was echoed by EASPD President Jim Crowe, who stated “We believe in the human rights and autonomy of persons with disabilities, and that they deserve to have voice, choice, and control over their life and the services which support them. That’s what the Personal Budgets are all about.”

Renaud Scheuer, Head of Knowledge and Innovation EASPD, added “we know that -if set-up well- personal budgets lead to very positive outcomes in the lives of persons with disabilities.Yet across Europe, personal budgets continue to mostly be “pilot tests” or “embryonic” rather than fully fledged models. The UNIC project provides Authorities with the means to make this transition.

With testimonies from people supported by personal budgets, the conference explored the various dimensions in which this system can impact their quality of life. The participants also discovered how public authorities, service providers and service users can be supported to implement personal budgets thanks to the tools developed by the partners of the UNIC project, EASPD, the European Ageing Network (EAN), Citizen Network Research (CNR), The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI), the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (VAPH), APSS CR from Czechia, Support Girona from Catalonia, KVPS from Finland, and Lebenshilfe from Austria.

The conference welcomed representatives from public authorities of various countries and regions, including Flanders (Belgium), Catalonia (Spain), Ireland, Czechia, and the UK. Together they discussed the challenges and opportunities in scaling up user-centred funding models to various contexts. The participants agreed that it is crucial to capitalise on the building momentum for personal budgets, including in the broader context of self-directed support. As the last panel illustrated, there are funding opportunities and the European Commission, together with its European partners, will look to continue improving person-centred care.

As the UNIC project draws to a close, EASPD and our partners will continue to work towards making services and their funding more user-centred. To discover the outputs of the UNIC project designed to support the implementation of personal budgets, please visit the project website and its online toolbox.

Supporting Documents

For more information, please contact:

Renaud Scheuer
Head of Knowledge and Innovation  
+32 2 233 77 23

Note to editors:

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 20,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.

The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission.