Services in social care have changed a lot over the last twenty years. Rather than being delivered directly by the council, most services are contracted out to be provided by charities, social enterprises and private companies. Also, personalisation now means that services are increasingly being bought directly by individuals and families via personal budgets and direct payments, rather than by councils through block contracts.
Because of this, the role of the council has changed from one of providing and delivering social care services to one of making sure that there is a good and varied supply of personalised support available for everyone. This includes people using services at the moment and people who may need to use services in the future. This includes people who receive personal budgets or direct payments, people funding their own care and carers.
This new role is often referred to as market shaping or market facilitation.
Market shaping that works well involves commissioners, citizens and service providers working together to ensure that the types of support (formal and informal) required to meet people's needs and aspirations are available.