This paper considers cash for care as reflected in direct payments and the more recent development of individual budgets in England. While the momentum to roll out individual budgets gathers pace in England, Wales has embarked on a more cautious approach in wishing to evaluate the impact of individual budgets on social services. The paper identifies some of the far reaching implications of cash for care in general and individual budgets in particular, for service users, carers ‐ both paid and informal ‐ and for the social work profession. The policy incoherence in relation to risk and safeguarding is highlighted. This paper supports the approach currently adopted by the Welsh Assembly Government in relation to the ‘rolling out’ of individual budgets. The Assembly's 10‐year strategy for social services focuses on the rights of citizens and the needs of communities. This paper argues that fulfilling that vision should not be wholly contingent upon an unproven extension into the field of individual budgets.