Personalisation itself is not about cuts, but there are cuts happening in the midst of it, budgets

are getting significantly reduced (SDS Lead, LA 1).

The other LAs, in the main, were reluctant to make such links. LA 3, for example, announced

‘efficiencies’ from service providers prior to announcing its personalisation strategy and did not

anticipate further large scale savings. At the same time, comments from LA respondents were

remarkably similar to that in LA 1.


The perception may be that SDS is the way we are cutting back, but we need to make the cut

anyway. So I think there is a bit of a myth there. (Contracts Manager, LA 3)

Cost cutting would have to have come anyway and it’s a chance to be creative in terms of how we

cut costs (SDS Lead LA 5).

This austerity also had implications for LAs. Respondents revealed that many initiatives, e.g. the

appointment of personalisation leads were resourced within existing or reduced budgets (LA 3, LA

4, and LA 5). In LA 5, the SDS lead reported the existence of only ‘small pots of money’ in its pilot

sites that ‘have to be filtered off from other parts of the social work budget’. In LA 4 despite a number

of people being successfully processed through the system of DPs and awaiting services, tightening

budgets towards the end of the financial year meant that the authority could only fund services to

those in critical need, delaying implementation of new personalised provision. Managers in LA 4

also observed that because of the generally lower allocation of resources to older people’s services,

the opportunities to fully personalise services for that group were limited. Resource constraints

were significant because LA respondents identified further internal barriers to change that would

potentially need expenditure to resolve, including:

• A need to re-educate LA staff in finance and administration to ‘let go’ the responsibility of

purchasing power to people accessing services;

• Up-skill staff in terms of their understanding of new ‘soft’ outcome measures;

• The reorganisation of processes and systems to overcome the complexity of establishing DPs;

• Improve the capacity of SDS specialists to train staff in the principles and practices of

personalisation; and

• Improve the capacity of internal LA staff to adequately communicate their knowledge to

providers, service user and their families.

These resource challenges were also in the face of early indications from several respondents (LA

4 and LA 5) suggesting that personalisation pilots had not delivered the hoped for savings from

reductions in ‘red-tape’ and bureaucracy.

Respondents also had a tough message to deliver regarding the impact of personalisation on

the voluntary sector. LAs anticipated moving away from commissioning services through block

contracts in favour of individuals purchasing services. Respondents, to varying degrees, advocated

radical marketisation of care provision, where providers would have to be increasingly responsive

to this emerging reality (i.e. attract individual budget holders to their services). Risk would fall

predominantly on providers of services, and those unable to meet the challenge would not survive.

The best of them will remain and the ones that are not quite as able will not. To me personally,

in some ways that is a good thing, because why should we have service provision that is stuck in

the dark ages not moving forward. If they are not prepared to engage and see that they have to

change then they are not going to survive. I don’t see that as a bad thing, that is the competitive

market (SDS lead, LA 5).

To survive in the market, LAs encouraged providers to ‘reinvent themselves’ becoming more

collaborative through providing services with other organisations in co-locations, sharing

administrative/management support functions, and possibly mergers. They were also encouraged

to invest in more sophisticated approaches to marketing services to the community. At the extreme,

it was argued this reinvention could lead to voluntary organisations no longer being large scale

employers, but taking on a role that was more focused on brokering services for people in the market

and accrediting and training PAs.

There were varying degrees of vulnerability among providers to this changing climate. Figure 1 reveals

the range of funding relationships between LA and voluntary sector participants.

Figure 1

Key Funding relationships between participating LAs and voluntary organisations

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