Personalisation ‘at high risk of failure’, Norman Lamb told

Leading advocates of self-directed support warn bureaucracy and lack of trust in people and social workers is derailing personal budgets, in open letter to care services minister.

Care services minister Norman Lamb (Photo credit: Rex Features)

Personalisation is at “high risk of failure” unless bureaucratic council approaches that restrict service users and social workers are overhauled, care services minister Norman Lamb has been warned in an open letter.

The letter comes from some of the organisations that have most fervently championed personal budgets and the opening up of the social care market to increase choice for service users: In Control, Shared Lives Plus, Community Catalysts, Inclusive Neighbourhoods and Inclusion North.

They said that while research showed how personal budgets could be used to most effectively improve outcomes for service users, many councils were taking the opposite approach.

“We too often find unsuitable systems for resource allocation, burdensome support planning approaches not controlled by people themselves, rigid rules on spend, social workers not trusted to make judgements, people left without information, advice and advocacy, under-developed markets and restrictive preferred provider lists,” it said.

The letter warned that the next couple of years were “absolutely critical” in determining whether personalisation delivered big improvements for people or became a “tragically missed opportunity”. “As things stand there is great potential but a high risk of failure,” it added.

It called on Lamb to follow some of the recommendations of the recent review by David Boyle for the Cabinet Office on extending choice and control in public services. These included phasing out preferred provider lists, replacing assessments of need with assessments that took account of people’s capabilities and informal resources, and placing a duty on councils to signpost people to independent sources of support on how they could spend their personal budget.

It said implementing Boyle’s recommendations could “dramatically” change a situation in which the local delivery of personalisation “too often corrupts its key principles”.

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