Trying Out Individual Service Funds (ISFs)

Self Directed Futures' work with Bristol City Council commissioning team on their Individual Service Fund offer.

Author: Steph Lyons

Self Directed Futures, a project of the Centre for Welfare Reform, has been working alongside colleagues from Bristol City Council (BCC) commissioning team to develop their Individual Service Fund (ISF) offer. 

The pilot was initially focused on offering ISFs to young adults in supported living. However, through linking with the Make It Local programme, an exciting opportunity arose to work alongside the Bristol VCSE to consider how they can provide support to help tackle the challenges being faced by adult social care and try something radically different.

Ideas are still being finalised as to what this will look like (more info to come!) but WECIL (the West of England Centre for Inclusive Living), a charity run by and for disabled people, has agreed to pilot ISFs and a ‘managed brokerage’ approach.

Brokerage can often be considered a one-off activity in which a broker will source support solutions in line with a person’s care and support plan, however, with managed brokerage the proposal is that WECIL will remain involved, for as long as the person wants, providing quality assurance and practical support for managing the ISF. A management fee, agreed with the person, will then be charged to cover the cost of the service.

Having already provided Bristol citizens with support for Direct Payments for 26 years, WECIL is well placed to build upon their knowledge and experience to trial this way of working with ISFs and promoting another option for self-directed support.

The pilot will initially work with individuals that WECIL have been assisting with Direct Payments but have identified that they would benefit from additional support. 

And so, working in partnership with adult social care, once the person’s Care Act eligible needs have been identified, WECIL will work with the citizen to agree how these can best be met. Thinking creatively and unrestricted (as they are independent after all!) and looking naturally towards local community solutions.

They will then manage all of the associated practicalities: invoicing, reporting back to the individual on their balance; quality checking to ensure that the person is happy with the support being provided and that outcomes are being met.

The impact of the pilot will then be reviewed to inform next steps - watch this space!

The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Trying Out Individual Service Funds © Steph Lyons 2021.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

Article | 07.06.21

Individual Service Funds, Self-Directed Support, social care, England, Article

Chris Watson


Founder of Self Directed Futures

Steph Lyons PhD


Freelance Health and Social Care Consultant

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