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A Quick Guide to Personal Budgets

The Government has recently introduced major changes the way services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are delivered. One key change is the introduction of Personal Budgets.

What is a personal budget?

A personal budget is a sum of money that will be available to a child or young person to deliver all or some of the provision set out in an EHC Plan. The availability of a personal budget will be based on the support a child or young person needs in order for them to achieve a set of agreed outcomes and to have their identified support needs met.

How can my child or young person get a personal budget?

EHC Plans came into force in September 2014. Parents of children and young people on an EHC Plan can request a personal budget from the Local Authority.

The Local Authority will consider the following when making a decision on your personal budget request:

  • Whether a personal budget would be financially viable.
  • Whether to extract that element of the resource will result in additional costs to the Authority and/or its partners.

If the Local Authority agrees to a personal budget, the parent or young person will be required to sign a contract that sets out clearly:

  • That the purpose of the personal budget is to achieve the agreed outcomes in the EHC Plan;
  • The legal and financial responsibilities and obligations; 
  • How the personal budget will be monitored.

What does the Personal Budget cover?

A personal budget can include money for social care, health and education provision that achieves the outcomes agreed in the EHC Plan.

A personal social care budget will be made available if a young person or child is assessed as needing additional and individual support at home and when out and about in the local and wider community.

A personal health budget will be made available if a young person or child has complex, long-term and/or a life-limiting conditions. A personal health budget may also be made available to help with equipment costs or other health services.

A personal SEN budget is a sum of money made available by a local authority because it is clear that without this additional (top-up) funding, it will not be possible to meet the child’s learning support needs. The school/college involved will already have funding for learning support across the school; only students with more complex learning support needs are likely to need a personal SEN budget.

How will Parents/Carers or Young People Manage a Personal Budget

Families will be able to decide how they want to manage their personal budget, these are the options:

  • As a direct payment. The funding coming direct to the family who will manage it to deliver support as set out in the EHC plan.
  • As an ‘organised budget’ where the local authority manages the budget for the family.
  • By a provider (for example a school or voluntary service).
  • Or as a mix of the three options above.

What happens if a request for a personal budget is not agreed?

If a parent/carer or young person has requested a personal budget but this has not been agreed by the Local Authority, or if a decision has been made to withdraw the personal budget, the reason for the decision will be provided to the parent or young person in writing.

In giving its decision, the Local Authority will advise the parent/carer or young person that they may request a review of the decision.  The timescales and arrangements for considering a review of the decision will be set out in the letter.

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