A guide to Social Care Personal Budgets
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced changes to 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 social care personal budget?
A social care personal budget is the annual amount of money that is available for you to spend on support for your child following a social care assessment. Carers’ needs are also assessed under distinct headings within the child’s assessment. The introduction of personal budgets will provide families with choices beyond the social care services currently provided directly by the Council.
What are the benefits of social care personal budgets?
A personal budget can provide a greater level of choice, control and flexibility for families. It allows a parent or young person to decide what care and support they receive, how and when they receive it. The support will need to show how it is meeting the child’s assessed needs.
Who can get a personal budget?
A personal budget may be necessary if a child’s needs can't be met through what the Council refers to as universal or short breaks/targeted services. This means services that are available to most children and young people or services which can give some extra support to a child or young person. If a child requires more specialist support due to multiple and complex needs or acute or highly complex needs, then a personal budget may be necessary to support a child’s additional support needs.
How much will my personal budget be?
It will depend on the needs of your son or daughter. A social worker will complete an assessment of need alongside the family. Towards the end of the assessment, the social worker and family members will also complete a Resource Allocation Questionnaire (RAS) to arrive at an annual indicative budget. You can take a look at the example of a Resource Allocation Questionnaire at the end of this page. There are two different questionnaires depending on the age of your child (one for children over 7 years of age, and one for children aged over 11 years of age.
How do I manage the budget?
If you have a personal budget to support your child’s social care needs, you will need to decide if you want to manage the budget yourself or if you would like the Local Authority to manage it on your behalf. The four options for managing a personal budget are listed below:
1. You can take it as a direct payment and receive the cash to buy and manage the services yourself.
2. The Local Authority can manage it for you, organising your child’s support so you don’t need manage any of the budget directly.
3. A third party can manage it for you. For example, the cash can be paid to a service provider, or a local organisation that will be able to manage the budget for you.
4. You can use a combination of these options. For example, the Local Authority could provide some activities within the annual budget, while you use the rest of the annual budget as a direct payment to pay for a personal assistant to support your child to go to a youth club.
How can I spend the personal budget?
You can spend the personal budget how you like, as long as your child is receiving the care to meet their assessed needs. Here are some examples of how you could spend a personal budget:
• employing a personal assistant to take child or young person to a group such as Rainbows, a youth club or to the cinema or theatre.
• paying for a night away or a holiday to a place that has specialist equipment to support a young persons needs.
• Employing a personal assistant to help a young person go to cooking and baking lessons (something they specifically enjoy) or going for a trip out the coast.
How will the personal budget be paid?
If the Local Authority manages the budget then the support plan will show how the money has been allocated on specific provision across the year. If a family is purchasing some or all of the support themselves then then money will be provided through a Direct Payment into a dedicated bank account. Records relating to spending will need to be kept.
Can we have a personal budget across health, care and education?
Yes. If your child has a single education, health and care plan you can ask for a personal budget to be considered for your child. Some families receiving children’s continuing health care already receive personal budgets. A personal budget for the education element of a plan would need to be discussed and agreed with a child’s school or college.
To find out more about Education Health Care Plans and Education Health Care Assessment (EHCA) forms including Pathways click here