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2011 Tizard Lecture - A Fair Society & the Limits of Personalisation

Dr Simon Duffy gave the 2011 Tizard Memorial Lecture at the University of Kent. In his talk he described how the dramatic impact of current cuts to income and support for the most vulnerable groups has demonstrated the very real limits of personalisation.

Personalisation was developed by families, disabled people and their allies in order to try and overcome the limited and constraining nature of some public services. Personalisation was successful in enabling some people to take more control over their own lives and to play a greater role as citizens - contributing to the wider community.

However, there is fundamental flaw in personalisation. In order to be successful personalisation has required support from key professional groups - particularly in local government. But the severe cuts that local government now have to make to all their care services is killing personalisation. Local authorities do not feel free to innovate, to trust citizens or to strengthen their entitlements; instead we are seeing increased interference, bureaucracy and mistrust.

Not only do these cuts undermine the development of personalisation in practice they also reveal how negligible are the rights of the most vulnerable in our society. 25% of the cuts fall on 3% of the population - the most severely disabled. This is not fair and it is not justified by any economic necessity.

These are unprecedented and drastic cuts, and they target disabled people in particular. The cuts demonstrate that personalisation will not work unless it is combined with fundamental changes to legislation combined with much greater clarity about the duties of government and the rights of citizens.

Dr Duffy says: Personalisation was an attempt to improve the rights of disabled people; but the current cuts -  that target disabled people - show that, on its own, personalisation will fail - it is time to campaign for much more fundamental reforms.