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Guidance on Individual Service Funds (ISFs) published

Three new publications have been produced describing good practice in the use of Individual Service Funds (ISFs).

Guide on ISFs

A guide on using Individual Service Funds has been published by the Centre for Welfare Reform. Its authors are Sam Smith and Frances Brown, who have considerable personal experience of using ISFs and whose guide not only outlines the essential principles of using an ISF but also includes many stories and examples of how they work in practice.

Beyond Direct Payments

This short report, Beyond Direct Payments, was written by Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform and Angela Cateley of Community Catalysts. It offers a way forward for commissioners and organisations in England who want to bring the benefits of personalisation to those who are currently excluded. The report covers the benefits of using micro-providers to act as agents for people who are currently excluded from the ability to manage direct payments, plus other innovative approaches used in England.

 Progress and Pitfalls in Individual Service Funds (ISFs)

This guidance, Progress and Pitfalls in Individual Service Funds (ISFs), was written by Chris Howells, a Fellow of the Centre for Welfare Reform and is based on work carried out with commissioners in the West Midlands. It offers practical advice on how to develop then necessary local competence and systems to make it possible to commission using ISFs.

In England individual Service Funds (ISFs) are meant to be an essential part of the architecture for self-directed support, as outlined in the guide Individual Service Funds (ISFs) and Contracting for Flexible Support which was authored by Simon Duffy and published by the Government agency Think Local Act Personal (TLAP). Unfortunately the usage of this model remains very low and the use of ISFs have not been treated as an essential target in the development of personal budgets or personal health budgets.

Overall, Simon Duffy observed:

"We can find examples of the use of ISFs going back over 25 years. However progress in their use has been rather slow. This is hard to explain, given the significant benefits that are associated with their use. Perhaps resistance is located in the ongoing tendency of policy-makers and professionals to try and improve quality by increasing the level of regulation, rather than by liberating citizens to be creative and to engage with their communities. These publications indicate that progress can be made, and that it is being made, but there will need to be some more profound changes in thinking and practice before we can expect personalised support to be the normal approach to social care and community support."  

A collection of materials on Individual Service Funds is available here.