Personal budgets are designed to help families have more control over their lives. A personal budget is made up of resources that can be used flexibly to support a child or young person with their education, health and/or care needs, as identified in their care and support plan.
The SEND Code of Practice defines a personal budget as an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver parts of the provision set out in an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Families will be able to request a personal budget as part of the planning process, i.e. when a local authority is drawing up an EHCP or at the annual review.
Who can have a personal budget?
There are three areas you can have a personal budget and/or direct payments for education, health, and social care. You can request a personal budget and/or direct payments for one or more of these areas of provision if:
- you have an Education, Health and Care Plan
- you have a Health Care and Support Plan and are eligible for Children's Continuing Care
- you have a Social Care plan, children in need plan, or short breaks plan for disabled children
You can only have a personal budget for education provision if you have an EHCP.
How much will I get?
How much money you get depends on:
- the type and level of support your child needs
- your family's situation and needs
- the services already available in your area
What can you use your personal budget for?
You may want a personal budget to:
- hire a personal assistant (PA) to help your child with everyday care
- buy special equipment not provided by the NHS
- pay for leisure or educational activities and transport costs
- book short stays in care homes or respite centres
- buy equipment, tools, aids, and technology that is not provided by the NHS, and their ongoing maintenance
- pay for transport costs for outdoors activities or day centres
- attend day services and centres
- arrange specialist teaching
A personal budget cannot be used for:
- Illegal or illicit activities
- Anything related to the NHS or healthcare
- Household bills or utility costs
- Housing costs
- Paying for care directly from close relatives
Please note that this is not a definitive list, and should be used as a guide only.
How to apply
Personal budgets will be explained to you during the EHCP assessment process, including details of how to apply.
Prepare before you apply
Before you apply for a Personal Budget, you might want to think about the following:
Make a list of your child's needs
Break your child's needs down into 3 categories: health, social and education. Consider the following questions:
- What would help your child feel more independent?
- How will their needs change?
- What do you need as a family to make daily life easier?
- Are there specific times of day they need support, like the school run, bathtime or bedtime?
- How does their needs affect your other children?
- Does your child need constant supervision, personal support for specific activities or occasional support?
- Can they carry out tasks appropriate to their age? For example, tying shoelaces or brushing teeth. This is sometimes called 'ages and stages'.
- What risks are you concerned about? Do you need support to put a safety plan in place?
Managing your personal budget
You do not have to manage your child's personal budget yourself. You can nominate someone to manage it for you or use the Council.
You can also choose to receive part of the budget if there are specialist services or equipment you want to organise yourself, such as support for activities like swimming or a customised wheelchair.
If your child is 16 or older and is assessed to have the capacity to do so, they can ask to manage their own payment or nominate someone to manage it for them.
Brokerage services or agencies may be able to manage staff on your behalf.
If you decide to employ someone yourself
- Seek advice from a brokerage service or the Council
- Use ACAS employer advice
- Ensure that appropriate employment insurance is in place
- Use a payroll service if unfamiliar with running payroll
Remember that personal budgets and direct payments are not a way of getting extra money but for using the existing money available more flexibly and effectively in a way that suits the individual to achieve the outcomes identified in their EHCP, social care or health care and support plan. Personal budgets and direct payments enable you to self-direct support giving you more choice, control and flexibility in how the assessed needs for you child, young person or family are met.
Frequently asked questions
What exactly is a personal budget?
A personal budget is money allocated to a child or young person by the Council to pay for support related to their special educational needs and/or disabilities. It allows families to choose and buy services that meet their child's assessed needs.
How is the amount of personal budget determined?
The amount of personal budget allocated depends on the individual needs of the child as identified through an assessment. The Council will take into account the cost of meeting the child's needs when calculating the budget.
What can a personal budget be spent on?
A personal budget can be spent on a wide range of services including therapies, equipment, short breaks and respite care. Families can tailor the support to their child's specific needs.
How are personal budgets managed?
Families can choose to manage the budget themselves, nominate someone else to manage it or have the Council manage it through an arranged service.
Will receiving a personal budget affect other benefits?
No, receiving a personal budget should not affect eligibility for other benefits. It is not means-tested or taxable income. Families should check with the benefits office to confirm.
How do I apply for a personal budget?
Plymouth City Council will assess your child's needs and guide you through the application process. You will need to provide evidence of their needs.
Does my child have to have an EHCP to get a personal budget?
No, personal budgets can be issued to children with or without EHCP if the council agrees they need additional support above what is usually provided.
What happens if the personal budget does not cover all costs?
You can request a re-assessment if your circumstances change. Top-up funding may be provided in exceptional cases at the Council's discretion.
Are personal budgets permanent?
No, they will be regularly reviewed and may change based on your child's evolving needs. The Council must review annually.
Who can I contact for help with personal budgets?
For independent support and advice please contact Plymouth Information, Advice and Support for SEND (PIAS).
Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:
- Early years (0 to 5 years old)
- Primary (5 to 11 years old)
- Secondary (11 to 18 years old)
- Preparing for adulthood
Is the information correct?
Let us know if the information on this page is wrong and needs to be updated.