Individual Service Funds (ISFs)

What are ISFs?

ISFs were formally introduced in the Care Act 2014, as an option for commissioning self- directed support.

The Care Act guidance states (s11.30 Care Act Guidance):

“There are three main ways in which a personal budget can be deployed:

  • as a managed account held by the local authority with support provided in line with the persons wishes
  • as a direct payment
  • as a managed account held by a third party (often called an individual service fund or ISF) with support provided in line with the persons wishes”
  • Direct payments have high levels of choice and control, and high levels of responsibility
  • Local Authority managed services can have lower levels of choice and control for the individual. Cambridgeshire County Council will have most ongoing management responsibilities
  • ISFs provide a middle option for choice and control

How ISFs work

In Cambridgeshire, ISFs are due to become available for some people in East Cambridgeshire. Your social worker will inform you if this option is available to you.

If ISFs are an option for you, a suitable organisation will be asked to manage your personal budget on your behalf. Your family, advocate or carer could also help you. You would work with the organisation to plan support services and activities to help achieve the outcomes identified in your care and support plan.

ISFs can be used for a range of different purchases as long as they demonstrate that they are achieving positive outcomes for you. The services and activities must help meet your assessed needs.

The organisation managing your ISF can:

  • provide services for you, if it offers these
  • commission other providers or buy sessional support. For example massage therapy, swimming lessons or yoga classes
  • purchase and maintain equipment such as assistive technology (where this is not already available through the local authority or NHS)
  • co-ordinate and support if you choose to pool and share your financial resources and support with other individuals 

Case study - Trudy

Trudy is a confident 63 year old with learning difficulties. She moved from a residential care home, to a supported living setting with an ISF. Support staff help Trudy to be more independent. They have provided Trudy with a personal alarm, and a medication dispenser, and help her to prepare her own food.

With a simple colour coded grid, Trudy chooses how to spend her budget each week. She decided that she didn’t want to go to day services any more. She is now more active in the community and she has taken on an allotment. She has also found a volunteer to help her at a local stables. By changing the support colours on her grid, Trudy makes her own decisions on her life and independence.