Personalisation of services

This driver has been archived

This driver has now been replaced by personalisation of care and individual budgets.

There is a growing consensus about the need for a personalisation of services, however there is debate over what form this should take.  Personalisation has so far focused on consumers, promoting individual choice, partly through opening up markets to competition (see bringing markets into public services). However another approach focuses more on citizens, arguing for user empowerment with users being involved in the shaping and co-production of services. (See empowered consumers)  It remains to be seen how this agenda will be taken forward.

What are the implications?

  • Closer relationship between users and professionals has the potential to strengthen ties and collaboration.
  • Personalisation and user involvement in developing services may result in unrealistic expectations and dissatisfaction with services.
  • Greater accountability of organisations to individuals and citizens. 
  • An increase in direct payments and individual accounts that give users greater control.
  • A focus on individual choice taken to the extreme may damage collective action.
  • Changing attitudes towards the welfare state as people increasingly approach services as consumers rather than citizens.
  • Public services opened up to markets and hybrid organisations develop to better meet the needs of different individuals.
  • Differentiation in services contributes to inequality between local areas.
  • Increase in inequality as those unable to make their voice heard are marginalised.
  • Increased public participation in decision making.

Moving forward

Users increasingly expect to be given opportunities to influence providers and shape the services they provide.  With an interest in user voice and involvement, the VCS have a competitive advantage.

  • To what extent is your organisation prepared to listen to and involve your users?
  • Do you feel confident that your organisation fully understands your users and their needs?
  • Do you capture learning and knowledge from your front line staff?
  • What role do your users have in feeding into your future strategy?
  • Other sectors are getting better at listening to and involving their users/customers.  How can your organisation demonstrate your experience and expertise in this area and retain your competitive advantage? 

Personalisation of public services is increasing the number of options open to users:

  • Can you provide advice and help citizens to negotiate the wide range of options available?
  • What is your role in ensuring marginalised voices are heard?

Want to know more?

Person-centred support: what service users and practitioners say

Published by: Joseph Rowntree Foundation – a social policy research and development charity.

Date: 2008

Format: Web

What is it? A summary of their recent research report investigating the success of service personalisation.

How useful is it? The research focuses on service users’ perceptions of person-centred approaches, investigating meaning, paths for success, potential and actual barriers, actual experiences good and bad, and therefore outlining models for success.  A useful document for examining what personalisation means to customers themselves and providing good practice examples and suggestions.

Other comments: Centres on disabled people, but the findings are largely applicable to other service users.  Complete document available as an e-book and to buy.

Making it personal

Published by: Demos - a left of centre think tank

Date: 2008

Format: Web

What is it? A report advocating transforming public services into self-directed services.

How useful is it? The report follows a policy statement in December 2007 promising a more personal approach to social care.  The report examines why participative approaches are attractive, how and why they work, risks involved in adopting this approach, challenges involved in transferring this approach to mass services, and how far personalisation could spread into other public services such as health and education.  A useful examination of the pros and cons of self-directed services, including recommendations on making it work.  

Other comments:

The User generated state: Public services 2.0

Published by: Charles Leadbeater

Date: 2008

Format: Web

What is it? An article discussing the potential reach of personalisation of services.

How useful is it? This article looks beyond the social care setting that is the usual focus of the service personalisation debate, and uses proven models of success taken from recent technological advances such as Web 2.0, to explore the wider potential and implications of user-led services.  It outlines five principles of success, examines risks involved, and ends by illustrating how this approach could potentially improve society for the future. 

Other comments:

The Adviser in the International Context: Where next for personalisation?

Published by: Instituteof Public Policy Research

Date: 2010

Format: Web, slides and audio

What is it?  Write up of a seminar run by ippr examining how the personal adviser role varies between different countries and examining different options for moving forwards with personalisation.

How useful is this?  Advisers have played a key role in the successful implementation of different social welfare schemes across the globe.  This seminar brought speakers from organisations who have successfully implemented advisers role to help facilitate different approaches to personalised services, and discussed the role advisers play in the successful implementation of these agendas.  The speeches offer an interesting discussion of the different options, and offer possible learning for British personalisation schemes.  The write up offers a summary, slides from the presentation, and downloadable podcasts of the speeches given.   

Other comments:  Podcasts on a number of other subjects are available from the ippr website.   

Progress in the delivery of personal budgets

Published by: Department of Health

Date: 2010

Format: Web

What is it?  Results from a survey completed by local governments to measure their personal budget uptake and outputs.

How useful is this?  Although crucially missing any qualitative research on users and what affects their uptake of personal budgets, this report does provide the most recent statistics regarding how personal budgets have progressed since 2008.  Results indicate that take up of personal budgets is still low (averaging 52% even in the most successful 4 councils surveyed).  It also examines how much is being spent on personal budgets, and looks at the percentage of direct payments which contribute to these budgets.

Other comments:  The report is held on the Department of Health’s personalisation pages with a number of other links available.

Last updated at 16:09 Wed 23/Feb/11.

LockRecent comments

Joh's picture


Public services are bad - lets be honest - In the UK especially where I live is awful - you wait an extremely long time for any form of service... The Fare is high and the distances covered for the fare are short, what this leads to is people owning vehicles due to the unreliability of the service and the ease that a car brings - I would be open for ideas such as this great idea

: Urban Car Sharing Schemes

Which I personally see as the solution to the awful public transport system which we currently have!

As you said Regarding "Greater accountability of organisations to individuals and citizens." Does this mean that when a bus driver is frankly rude then the organisation is fined or something?

It is interesting that the driver highlights inequality as an implication:

"Increase in inequality as those unable to make their voice heard are marginalised."

If personalised systems are set up in a fair way, then it could increase equality by breaking down the institutional barriers that prevent citizens getting the help they need. For example co-production may offer an opportunity for organisations and people to see the real value of the work that unpaid carers are doing, and individual budgets could more accurately provide for the real cost of supporting people.

If you want to influence the support available to voluntary and community groups on personalisation, take NCVO's three minute personalisation survey to let us know your thoughts and experiences of personalisation so far. The survey is open until Friday 6 November 2009.

Sue's picture


The voluntary sector groups in Haringey expressed their concerns about how this is going to work in practice at an event we hosted in partnership with the LA. There is a real fear that organisations who have large marketing budgets will attract the spending power to the detriment of small local groups who clients are used to receiving services from them for free! There is also concern that many of the services that are provided as an add on to the main funded service provison i.e. lunch clubs may go to the wall once LA funding dries up.

Join the discussion!

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

  • Lock