The Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) is one of the leading social care research groups in the world, and has contributed in many ways to the development of national and local policies and frontline practice in the UK and elsewhere. Its reputation for high-quality, robust research has encouraged many national and local policy-makers, commissioners and service providers to request its support in generating evidence to inform discussions and decisions. Since its establishment in 1974, PSSRU has had considerable impact on national social care policy in the UK and in a number of other countries. PSSRU has also established itself as the leading European group on mental health economics and policy, and has an excellent worldwide reputation for its work in this field.

A branch of the PSSRU was established at LSE in 1996, following more than 20 years of policy and practice research at the University of Kent at Canterbury. In the same year, a PSSRU branch was opened at the University of Manchester. 

Directed by Professor Martin Knapp, PSSRU at LSE carries out policy analysis, research and consultancy in the UK and abroad. The Unit's current research themes focus around children and young people's services, dementia, long-term care, mental health economics and policy, social care service evaluation and economics, and unpaid care. The PSSRU has long had close and productive links with policy makers in the UK and elsewhere.

Mission and aims

PSSRU's mission is to conduct high quality research on social and health care to inform and influence policy, practice and theory.

Associated with this mission are the following aims:

  • To conduct long-term research to help shape the developments of social and health care systems, in the UK and internationally, while also responding to more immediate research needs;
  • To develop and employ rigorous research methods from a multidisciplinary base;
  • To examine the performance and functioning of social and health care finance, organisation and delivery, with a particular emphasis on promoting efficiency and equity;
  • To conduct research that meets the best standards of research governance;
  • To work towards greater user involvement in research;
  • To ensure knowledge exchange activities feature as a priority in all activities, and that research findings are shared with a wide range of audiences through a variety of media;
  • To sustain a vibrant research environment.

Since 2009, PSSRU has been awarded over 85 new research grants, totalling £9 million, and has been involved in a number of key policy and practice discussions, such as the Dilnot Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, building community capacity, making the economic case for mental health promotion and prevention, and (jointly with the Kent branch) the evaluations of the Individual Budgets Pilot Scheme and the Partnerships for Older People Projects (POPP). More recently, PSSRU has been heavily involved in discussions on policies linked to dementia and dementia carers.