Personal Budgets For Offenders


Rates of re-offending are high both for offenders leaving prison and people on community sentences. Many offenders have multiple and complex needs that include mental health and/or substance misuse needs and learning disabilities.

Over recent decades the social care sector has pursued policies that have dramatically reduced the use of institutional settings, driven by localism and the ‘personalisation’ of services including personal budgets.

The time is ripe to implement similar models in the criminal justice system. Emerging concepts within offender management theory, such as ‘desistance’ and the ‘Good Lives’ model of rehabilitation draw on a similar set of ideas and seek to identify the assets offenders can draw on (personal, family and community) to co-produce resettlement plans that help offenders live a Good Life. Examples such as the Inside Out project at HMP Preston or the personalisation project at HMP Everthorpe show how an ‘enabling fund’ could allow offenders and those working with them to resource personalised approaches to resettlement.

Personalisation is a form of ‘social innovation’ and to work in the criminal justice system there will need to be new approaches to commissioning that include micro-commissioning and developing plural markets of providers.

The introduction of personal budgets to a sector in which the public expects to see punishment and risk management is inherently risky, but this uncomfortable fit could also be the attraction of doing just that: personal budgets have shown in social care that they can positively disrupt monolithic systems and uncover the potential of individuals and communities which had never been imagined to exist.

Researchers at MMU have evaluated a number of personalised approaches to offender rehabilitation and studied different financial models for incentivising social innovation including Payment by Results and Social Impact Bonds. Their ideas for more personalised services for the resettlement of offenders, including personal budgets for offenders are influencing the approach to offender rehabilitation taken by a range of criminal justice organisations including some of the new Community Rehabilitation Companies.

See here the MetroPolis Policy Brief

MetroPolis Briefing – Personal Budgets 2016