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Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) by what means his Department plans to ensure that the evaluation of the individual budgets' pilots will capture people with specific conditions; and if he will make a statement; (253678)

(2) how people with autism were classified in the recent individual budget pilots;

(3) whether data from the recent individual budgets pilots can be used to determine the effect of individual budgets on people with (a) autism and (b) sensory impairments.

The independent individual budget evaluation was not designed to examine the outcomes for specific groups of service users, but for broad categories of people: older people, people with learning disabilities, people with physical disabilities and people with mental health problems. It was a randomised controlled trial, in which all those people potentially eligible for individual budgets within each pilot site were allocated at random to an individual budget or a comparison group. Sites varied in the groups of service users for whom they intended to pilot individual budgets.

The final report of the independent individual budget was published on 21 October 2008 and can be obtained via the Department's website. A copy has been placed in the Library.

The evaluation team was highly dependent on local authorities collecting the data and they allocated study participants to the broad user groups. These allocations to user groups would have reflected convention and practice within specific local authority teams. While some people with autism and sensory impairments are likely to have been included within the sample , it is not possible to identify people with specific conditions from the information the evaluation team collected.