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Making good use of money

Paul (left) has support to make the most of his own budget. He enjoys going to live football matches when he can.

Enabling people to control their own support budgets is not just empowering – it saves money and improves quality too.

“Councils need a cogent reason not to implement ISF’s as part of the Care Act. They are not something to be ignored” Dr Tim Gollins, TLAP conference, November 2015.

We know this to be true. A Choice Support and Southwark Adult Services personalisation project broke up a block contract of £6.5 million into 83 Individual Service Funds (ISFs). Independent research by the Social and Health Evaluation Unit of Bucks New University verified that this initiative reduced costs by nearly 30%, increased quality and delivered more personalised services.

ISFs are about so much more than just the money (as the video above describes).   

Paul was one of the people to benefit. He used to go to a day centre five days a week, but when he was allocated his ISF – which we help him manage – the money that used to go to the day centre was put at his disposal to plan activities that suited him. One of the first things he did was plan a holiday in Cyprus with his mother. One of Paul’s support workers says:

“Paul had never flown before. We went on a day trip to Biggin Hill and went to the airport three times before we tried the flight. The holiday to Cyprus went well and he got on the plane fine.” 

Paul’s Southwark Council care manager commented after a recent meeting:

“I am really pleased with the outcomes. The plan has surpassed expectations and Paul has experienced a huge range of activities, now he is actively being supported to find employment opportunities. This is something new to Paul which he clearly enjoys.”

Paul is one of 83 people in Southwark with an ISF.

Kathy is another. We have been supporting her since the 1980s, when she moved out of Darenth Park Hospital. Over the years Kathy lived in several registered care homes, but found sharing with other people difficult and was often distressed. Unfamiliar staff bothered her, and she was unhappy in the company of other women.

Kathy’s manager realised that much of Kathy’s behaviour was prompted by anxiety about what would happen next, attributable to her autism. She needed predictability, and to learn how to sequence things. However, that was hard when living with other people, each of whom had their own routines and different needs. Things changed when Kathy got her ISF and was able to move to her own flat with a garden. Since then she hasn't presented any challenges to her support. She says:

"Kathy doesn't do those things anymore. She hasn't banged her head since she moved here."


Kathy has a visual planner with pictures so she knows exactly what to expect every day. Now she will tolerate the occasional need for new staff and accepts being supported by women – staff she likes and has chosen.

Kathy always had a volatile and intermittent relationship with her family, but after she moved to her flat and became calmer we were able to help her reconnect. Kathy's mother passed away recently, but before she died her relationship with Kathy was the best it had ever been.

We are now introducing ISFs in services we manage across the country. Our work in this area has:

If you would like to explore how ISFs might work for you, or if you work for a local authority and would like to discuss this further, please get in touch.

Read related content...

Tags in this document: Individual service funds



Report assessing the impact of reducing night support in Southwark


Report assessing the impact of ISFs in Southwark


Link: Better Lives

Report evaluating the impact of Choice Support's personalisation programme in Southwark

Contact us

Looking for support

Email: enquiries@choicesupport.org.uk
or telephone: 0207 261 4100

To discuss working together

Email: enquiries@choicesupport.org.uk
or telephone 0207 261 4100

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