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Personal budgets and direct payments

Parents of a child with an EHC plan, or a young person who has an EHC plan, can ask for a personal budget. You can also ask for a personal budget if your child has been assessed as needing an EHC plan, but this has not yet been finalised.

You do not have to have a personal budget, however, the aim of a personal budget is to support families, children and young people to personalise the way in which they receive the support in their EHCP to meet the agreed outcomes. A personal budget MUST be used to meet an outcome or some of the outcomes in an EHCP.

Watch this video to find out more about personal budgets.  

The website links section has links to other information that you might find helpful. 

What can a personal budget be used for?

A personal budget can only be used to pay for the support set out in an EHC plan. This can include funding for the special educational, health and social care support that will help to achieve the outcomes set out in the EHC plan.

Requesting a personal budget

A child’s parent/carer or the young person can request a personal budget. They can do this: 

  • when an assessment has taken place and an EHCP is agreed
  • at the point of an annual review of an EHCP

Parent/carers or the young person must always be involved in planning the personal budget.

A child’s parent/carer or the young person (who can be supported by their parents or another adult) can make a request for a personal budget by writing to the allocated SEN Case Officer. Please outline why you are requesting a personal budget and which outcome/s and provision in the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you would like to take responsibility for.

Alternatively you can use the parental/young person SEND personal budget request form which can be found in the downloads section on this page.

You can aslo contact the SEND Information Advice and Support Service at SENDiass4BCP for support with making a request for a personal budget.

Receiving a personal budget

You can only use a personal budget to fund the support set out in the EHC plan in order to meet the outcomes listed.

Families can manage a personal budget using:

  • direct payments - This is where individuals receive the cash to contract, buy and manage a service themselves
  • an arrangement - This is where either the school or college, or the LA (us) hold the funds. They will then commission the support specified in the plan.
  • third party arrangements - Funds (direct payments) are paid to and managed by an individual or organisation on behalf of the child’s parent or the young person
  • combination - of direct payments, arrangement or third party arrangement

Direct payments

Direct payments are where individuals receive the cash to contract, buy and manage a service themselves.

Direct payments can only be made to three groups:

  • those with legal parental responsibility and caring role for a child or young person who is disabled 
  • a young person aged 16 to 25 who is disabled
  • young carers over the age of 16 (in exceptional circumstances).

What can direct payments be used for?

Direct payments can be used to pay for the support set out in an EHC Plan to meet the outcomes in the plan. In some cases there may be a better way to pay for services. We’ll explain your options when you request a personal budget.

If you’d prefer to use services provided by someone else then your personal budget will need to be managed through either an organised arrangement or a third party arrangement.

Payments may only be made if the parent/carer or young person agrees and they opt to receive services provided by the Local Authority.

If your direct payment is going to be used to pay for services your child will get at school we must have the school’s agreement first.

How much is the direct payment?

The amount you receive will be different for everyone, but should be sufficient to purchase exactly the quantity and standard of service that has been described in the EHC Plan. It should help to increase choice and flexibility and should reflect current market rates for services.

Personal budgets for young people aged 16 to 25

Young people over 16 can apply to manage their own direct payments as long as they are able to make an informed decision. In some cases the young person may wish, as part of their transition to adulthood, to take over parts or all of the direct payment that has been managed by the person with parental responsibility, allowing them to gain experience of taking on more control of their finances, in a gradual way before reaching adulthood.

When there is a disagreement between the young person, parents and/or the local authority over whether the young person is capable, at that time, of managing a direct payment by themselves or with help, there should be access to advocacy for the young person, and the opportunity for discussions to make sure all the arguments are considered.

Personal budgets for health or care

Some people have personal budgets for health provision (a Personal Health Budget) and for social care provision (e.g. Preparing for Adulthood team). They may manage some or all of the provision using a Direct Payment.

What personal budgets cannot be used for

Every request for a personal budget will be considered on an individual basis. Requests may be refused as some services, such as therapy services, are contracted between the local authority and the NHS and therefore, this may not be an efficient use of public funds.

Personal budgets and/or direct payments cannot be used to pay for a place at school or college.

All personal budgets and direct payments will be regularly monitored and reviewed.   

When a personal budget is not agreed

Sometimes the local authority may not to agree to a personal budget/direct payment. If that happens the local authority should tell you why.

Families and young people can challenge the amount or a decision at the outset although it will be not be possible to see if the funding is the right amount until all of the details of the EHC provision have been considered.

There should be open discussion throughout the process in order to prevent any disagreement at later stages. It is not possible to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal over a refusal to provide a personal budget.

What the SEND Code of Practice says about personal budgets

Local authorities must provide information on Personal Budgets as part of the Local Offer. This should include a policy on Personal Budgets that sets out a description of the services across education, health and social care that currently lend themselves to the use of Personal Budgets, how that funding will be made available, and clear and simple statements of eligibility criteria and the decision-making processes.

The SEND Personal (Education) Budget Policy for BCP Council can be found in the downloads section of this page.