News and Comment

Having personalisation as the norm: OPM, LGID, In Control and Action for Children report

Friday 25 February 2011


One of the biggest strategic challenges for UK government at all levels is to renegotiate the relationships between public services (whoever is providing them) and service users and the public. Personalisation and individual budgets through which we can establish co-production and sometimes copayment relationships provide the answer, particularly now that we know that we can achieve better long term outcomes as well as budget savings.

In November last year OPM worked with LGID, In Control and Action for Children on a conference about personalisation and individual budgets for children and the report has just been published. In addition to young people and parents, participants included a rich mixture of service providers, policy makers and commissioners. The discussions were both broad and deep with an emphasis on practice rather than theory.

OPM’s particular contribution was to explain how leaders in children’s services could commission a system in which personalisation and individual budgets are encouraged, or even the norm. Personalisation and individual budgets do not work as a stand alone programme. They require whole system change which in turn relies on excellent leadership from people who understand that they are first and foremost strategic commissioners able to shape services round service users rather than around the needs of professionals and traditional services. Localism is potentially helpful because it removes some of the central government controls which have been identified as barriers to individual budgets. However people at this conference were worried that local leadership was not strong enough to rise to the challenge without central government support. They also worried about the post code lottery.

We had hoped to have the Minister, Sarah Teather with us and the report contains questions for her raised by groups of participants. We look forward to working with LGID, In Control and Action for Children to circulate the answers and offer any support we can to the government departments as well as local government in response to the considerable ‘social movement’ now behind personalisation and individual budgets in the coming months and years.