Independent Personal Budget & Digital Care Cap Account


A council-led, collaborative project, co-designing an automated digital solution to generate personal budgets/independent personal budgets, and associated self service digital care cap accounts, which the council and the service user can rely on in terms of the incoming Adult Social Care funding reforms.


The discovery phase is now complete, and the discovery report finalised. One important change to the project was the expansion of it’s scope to include both self-funders and individuals who receive financial support from the Local Authority. The resulting MVP will deliver functions to calculate an IPB/PB and provide a digital care cap account for everyone. The report reflects the differences between the varied cohorts and how the associated metered rates are derived from their respective IPB or PB.

The resulting MVP will be built from the outset with integration in mind but is not expected to rely on integration or actively seek out integration with any external system until post MVP later phases of the project’s journey. The resulting MVP product will stand alone initially.


BetterCare Support was co-designed by six councils (Coventry, Dorset, Lincolnshire, Medway, Oxfordshire and Solihull) and developed by Looking Local in 2021, to address the need for a digital approach to care and support assessments within Adult Social Care (ASC). BetterCare Support uses 40+ animations to guide a service user through a self-assessment of their care and support needs and generates a reliable, reflective assessment.

We brought together four local authorities to explore and co-design an extension to the platform, to enable self-funders to take the output of their self-assessment and, with minimal manual input, generate their independent personal budget (IPB). This digital approach will enable councils to address the surge in self funders who will need an IPB, as well as a way to log and evidence their spend towards their £86,000 care cap.

Throughout the project, appropriate consideration was given to safeguarding, risk and fraud to ensure the solution produces results on which the council can rely, with appropriate flags/notifications where an assessment is outside specified risk boundaries.


The DHSC Impact Assessment has estimated that 80% of eligible self-funders will come forward each year to be assessed for their care and support needs. Via a number of early market scoping sessions, local authorities told us they will struggle with the significant increase in demand from service users who, under current legislation, don’t typically approach their council for assistance.

Utilising the BetterCare digital self-service care and support assessment platform to enable a self-funder to generate and track their independent personal budget will provide councils with significant efficiency savings and mean that this new approach will be digital by default and digital from the start. Not only by reducing the need for individuals to visit their council or for practitioners to make home visits, but also to ensure that IPB backlogs don’t build up and there is a smooth transition when a service user reaches their care cost cap.

This self-service approach will empower self-funders and support the workforce at a time of significant business process change, giving service users effective tools to determine their independent personal budget, and staff a system to identify and prioritise any cases requiring additional risk-based intervention.



From October 2023, the government’s adult social care funding reforms will introduce a new £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime. Self-funders – those who are not eligible for local authority means-tested support and who therefore need to arrange their own care, will need the means to calculate and track their eligible care costs that will count towards the cap (i.e. their independent personal budget).

Alongside BetterCare Support, Looking Local has developed BetterCare Finance, a digital self-service solution that assesses the financial package people receive in terms of ASC. Developed back in 2017 in partnership with Kirklees Council, BetterCare Finance is the leading financial assessment solution on the market today, currently used by 12 councils.

BetterCare Finance is directly aligned with local charging policies/rulebases. This ensures that each local authority has a completely bespoke setup and that service users receive accurate and up-to-date care contribution amounts.


  • 95% of customers are fully self-serve
  • Home visits have dropped from 100% to 2%
  • Failed care packages have reduced by 50%
  • Average of £1.4m debt recovered annually (since 2017)
  • Initial backlog of 650 cases eliminated


This project ran across two distinct phases:

  1. Discovery: Collaborative workshops with all co-funders to outline the problem, understand the user and any constraints, and capture the requirements. The primary outcome of this phase provided a clear decision on whether it was viable to move into the next phase.
  2. MVP: Following the outputs of the discovery phase to co-design and subsequently develop a minimum viable product (MVP).

This gateway approach allowed for a project break, if necessary – so that if the outcome of the discovery phase determined that development of the capability was not viable, we would not progress to the co-design and MVP development phase. In this scenario, councils would be reimbursed with the remaining balance of their financial contribution.


  • Working with other like minded, forward thinking LAs to co-design a sustainable self service solution with a leading technical partner,  an expert in the ASC field
  • Working in sight of and alongside the charging reform Trailblazers
  • October 2023 is not that far away in terms of creating a digital solution and embedding it as business as usual – an opportunity to co-design and co-fund a digital solution to this significant challenge and have something ready for the changeover date 
  • No need for internal IT resource
  • Any MVP will align with the Service Standards set out in the GDS Service Manual 
  • Each co-funder will receive an annual discount on the resulting product, such that it will ensure involvement is cost neutral


Looking Local, co-owned by Kirklees Council, is a public sector technology provider that has built smart, self-service platforms to reduce pressures on local authorities for over 15 years. 

Looking Local is part of the emerging NHSTD technical supplier forum around standards and technical specifications underpinning the charging reforms. We have already had sight of the Adult Social Care Reform – MVP Software Requirements Specification and have ensured that anything developed is ‘in line’ with this evolving reference point.

Looking Local has worked collaboratively with local authorities on a number of digital solutions, and as such are experts in managing multi-partner projects and ensuring the resulting solution is reflective of the combined business needs. 

Lincolnshire County Council provided this testimonial about their experience of working with Looking Local and other council partners to co-design and develop BetterCare Support: 

“Working with other local authorities and industry professionals in early exploration of ideas and direction was a refreshing start to a project. There were clear benefits from the outset, including the much smaller outlay and risk compared with procuring a solution alone. But softer benefits that emerged during the collaboration can also not be underestimated; this has been a highly engaging opportunity, generating creative ideas and encouraging a broader consideration of options. Involvement has offered tangible benefits in terms of a good value product option, also improving insight into our localised needs and how these might be best met. The process was well facilitated by knowledgeable, friendly, open individuals; all of which helped us bring service user groups into the co-design activity.

Looking Local is certified by Cyber Essentials Plus and all products are annually pen tested by qualified external agencies.