A new report by the New Zealand Initiative says personal budgets are a social services innovation that is creating new opportunities and changing how disabled Kiwis live.

The report, titled The Power of Freedom: How personal budgets for social services are transforming lives, compares outcomes from traditional support services to the Individualised Funding (IF) model for disability support.

The IF model gives each individual a personal budget to hire their own staff and buy other services. Budgets are set according to individual needs.

The report’s author, Senior Economist Matt Burgess, says the performance of IF is stunning.

“It is not just the weight of evidence which shows personal budgets work. Virtually all of the evidence shows they work. It is overwhelming.”

“Findings from research in New Zealand and of similar schemes overseas confirm what IF recipients told us. IF is more flexible and more reliable than traditional disability support services.”

This year, New Zealand will spend more than $1.8 billion to support 43,000 disabled Kiwis. Around 8,000 are on IF.

“IF has reached a critical mass in New Zealand. It is a proven concept that is making a real difference in peoples’ lives.”

“Individualised Funding opens up opportunities like travel or the ability change plans at the last minute which are difficult with traditional services,” says Burgess.

IF recipients receive support from host organisations. Each recipient gets a personal coach and guidance to ensure they meet their obligations as employers.

The Ministry of Health has developed the personal budgets model for over 20 years.

“Personal budgets have wider applications. They have the potential to revolutionise Aged Care and mental health services,” says Burgess.

The New Zealand Initiative will hold a report launch webinar later today. Details are available on our website.

Read more: The Power of Freedom: How personal budgets for social services are transforming lives is available to download here.

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