Self-Directed Support for Europe

Launch of UNIC a 3 year programme to develop, test and validate a set of innovative tools to implement Personal Budgets across Europe.

With the support of the European Union, a coalition of organisations has come together to develop a European approach for individualised funding and self-direction. UNIC - towards User-centred funding models for long term Care - is a 3 year programme which will develop, test and validate a set of innovative tools to help key stakeholders to implement a Personal Budgets funding model.

Tools developed by UNIC will be tested for 12 months in Belgium by VAPH and will then be transferred to the Austrian, Czech, Finnish and Spanish contexts. The UNIC project will run for 36 months, from October 2020 until September 2023. This work is made possible by support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI (2014-2020)”.

Key objectives

UNIC will support the transition to user-centred funding models in Long-Term Care (LTC) by developing innovative instruments to support the take-up and scale-up of personal budgets by the following six steps:

  1. To map existing LTC funding models (with a particular focus on personal budgets) across the EU and identify drivers or barriers for the development of personal budgets in LTC
  2. To develop challenges-responsive guidelines for the design, implementation and evaluation of a user-centred funding model for LTC focused on personal budgets. The guidelines will reflect some of the key challenges ahead:(a) Access and affordability: financing, provision and personal income (b) Sustainability: cost, investment and impact of informal care (c) Employment: workforce professionalisation, skills development, recruitment & retention (d) Quality: high quality care, integration of services, quality standards
  3. To develop a set of innovative tools to support the design, implementation and evaluation of personal budgets
  4. To build the capacity of key actors involved and set up multi-level partnerships to support the design, implementation and evaluation of personal budgets, with a particular focus on the better integration of LTC with other community-based services
  5. To develop a planning, evaluation and validation model to test the impact of an innovative funding model – personal budgets- for LTC (outcomes-based measurement)
  6. To design a transferability model with a view to potential upscaling using EU funds & financial instruments (particularly ESIF & EFSI)

Project partners

  • Belgium – European Association of Services Providers for Persons with Disabilities (coordinator)
  • Luxemburg - European Ageing Network
  • United Kingdom - Centre for Welfare Reform
  • Ireland - Disability Federation of Ireland
  • Belgium - The Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (VAPH)
  • Czech Republic - Association of Social Care Providers of the Czech Republic
  • Spain - Support-Girona
  • Finland - Service Foundation for People with an Intellectual Disability
  • Austria - Lebenshilfe Salzburg


Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform welcomed the development of the UNIC programme:

"Being able to take control of your own support is a vital part of citizenship and of respecting the human right to independent living. One necessary part of making this right real is to be able to individualise support funding and giving the person authority over how that funding is used. The idea that people should control their own support sounds easy, but the reality is that it has taken a long time to make progress away from institutional models of funding. Disability activists began the work of demanding control in the mid 1960s in California and yet many places still do not have systems of individualised funding, and even when such systems do exist they are often only available to a small number of people.

"This is why the development of the UNIC programme is so important. individualised funding must become the normal model for funding long-term support. Disabled people, families and older people must be able to shape their own support and create solutions that make sense and which enable people to remain at the heart of community life. We are very grateful that the Centre for Welfare Reform has been asked to provided technical assistance to this programme and we look forward to supporting our colleagues and being accountability to the disability leaders and other key advocates who form our Advisory Board."