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Extending your knowledge: The future of support

In this video, Jan Walmsley and Eric Emerson describe the introduction of personalised budgeting systems and the future of disability support.

In this step, we focus particularly on the future of support from the perspective of the Global North. Jan Walmsley and Eric Emerson discuss the move towards individualised funding and the benefits and drawbacks of this approach.

As Eric points out, individualised funding — or funding that is based on an individual’s needs for supports — makes sense from a disability rights perspective. In the past, disability funding has often been allocated by states in blocks to service providers — meaning that services make the decisions around what to spend the funding on, rather than people with disabilities themselves. With individualised funding, each eligible disabled person is allocated their own funds based on the supports they need to (ideally) flourish. In theory, the disabled person — or their ally — is then able to buy the supports they need with their individualised budget.

Experiences of implementing this model in the United Kingdom, United States and European Union have highlighted some drawbacks. As Jan suggests, an individualised approach to support can lead to a move away from collective approaches to support. In an accepting and inclusive world, collective support (such as group homes or community living programs for people with disabilities) might not be necessary. But most communities are not as embracing of difference, and without these programs some people with impairments could become increasingly isolated.

Another challenge for the individualised funding model is that it is dependent on a market being able to provide supports that disabled people want. But, as Eric points out, “what people want often they can’t buy.” For example, we saw this in Step 4.10 when Denise talked about the barriers for disabled people to access sex workers. Eric also says that an individualised model can compound disadvantage because some people are better equipped than others to make choices around support.

Finally, all models of state support are dependent on the state’s definition of disability. Eric explains how with the global financial crisis, eligibility criteria around disability have shifted so that fewer people have access to disability benefits.

Talking points

  • This discussion of individualised funding is more relevant in some countries than others. What is the situation in your local context?
  • What do you see as the potential benefits of individualised funding models?
  • Who do you think is most likely to miss out under an individualised model of funding?
  • What do you see as the future of support?

In the next step we look at issues of capacity and consent, particularly around sexuality and relationships.

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Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability

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