Personalisation has the potential to deliver services in new and different ways better matching the needs and priorities of service users and their carers. A new TSRC study examines one local authority's venture into co-production with a local community, providing personal budgets for vulnerable adults.

Personalisation was a key element in reform to the Adult and Social Care system in England exploring long-term funding options in response to demographic change where people are increasingly living longer with complex conditions and needs. Personal budgets are central to this reform to enable recipients of social care to choose and commission their own services. Reform was not expected to require structural reorganisation but local authority leadership to promote genuine partnerships between social care providers, users and their carers as well as the wider community. However, there is potential for a shift in power to service users which goes beyond collaboration, especially where there is scope to build long-term relationships around long-term needs.

This TSRC study is based on one local authority partner’s innovative development of local communities’ social capital around personal budgets for vulnerable adults, which took up the challenge that "personalisation has the potential to deliver services in new and different ways that are nearer to what service users and their carers want and need". One of the gaps in research regards the crucial role of carers, which is fundamental to the personalisation agenda reaching its real objectives. Taking an asset-based approach to informal care via social networks, the local authority was able to empower a community-run organisation in one of its most deprived and diverse wards by brokering support for vulnerable residents and embracing a neighbourhood perspective to examine collective as well as individual solutions.