Self-funders: Still By-Standers in the English Social Care Market?

Melanie Henwood, Jon Glasby, Steve Mckay, Catherine Needham

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The Care Act 2014 gave local authorities in England broad duties around wellbeing, and responsibility to ensure the availability of good quality, personalised social care and support services for people who need them. These responsibilities are for all people needing support, whether that is publicly or privately funded. In exercising their duties, councils have a responsibility for ‘market-shaping’: that is, understanding the supply and demand for care, and the types of services and support needed now and in the future, and steering the market accordingly. Changes to the implementation of the Care Act removed some of the levers that might have brought self-funders into the mainstream of local authority responsibilities. This article draws on sixty-four qualitative interviews undertaken as part of a larger study on market-shaping and personalisation of care, and reflects on the experience of self-funders and the approach to them adopted by local authorities and provider organisations. The findings indicate that self-funders are still largely bystanders to local authority market shaping strategies, despite being both impacted by those strategies and significantly influencing the markets in which they operate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2020


  • Self-funders
  • personalisation
  • market-shaping


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