Simon explored his very personal journey charting the development of personal budgets as a social policy tool, starting in the world of disability and spreading to other areas of social policy. He described the pitfalls of this journey, and, in particular, the dangers of innovative and radical policy actions becoming “mainstreamed”.
He described how what looked like success – getting personal budgets accepted as a policy tool by Government - was actually failure because they took the idea and killed it by:
- entwining personalisation with austerity, with social care already been cut by over 30%
- making personal budgets too difficult (bureaucratic) to access easily, because those in control of budgets wanted to remain in control
- old patterns of control have re-emerged while innovation has been minimal
- the real policy questions raised by personalisation have been avoided
Simon summed up his heresy by saying that, from his experience, Government cannot innovate. He said