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What are Personal Budgets?

A personal SEND budget is money that helps a child or young person with SEND achieve their outcomes. It’s based on their needs that have been assessed and written into their EHC Plan. It clearly shows what services and resources they need.

Depending on the needs of the child or young person it can be requested as either a single area budget or one that cross cuts education, health and social care.

Once a personal budget is requested and agreed, the EHC plan will clearly identify where services are being funded from and how these budgets will be managed.

Children/young people and parents/carers will be at the centre of these discussions and involved in how they would like to see services delivered and where applicable how they would like the funding to be managed.

Young people and parents/carers of children have the right to ask the local authority to prepare a personal budget once the authority has completed an EHC assessment and confirmed that it will prepare an EHC Plan.

A request for a personal budget can also be made during an EHC plan annual review.

Personal budgets will only be considered at the initial assessment and annual review stages.

Parents/carers, children and young people will only be eligible for personal budgets which directly relate to the identified outcomes within their EHC plan.

Personal budgets can be managed in the following different ways:

Direct payment

Parent/carers/young person are given funding to buy and manage the services themselves to meet the outcomes identified in their EHC Plan. Spend and accountability will be monitored by the Local Authority through contract monitoring.

An arrangement

No money changes hands and the Local Authority hold the budget.  

Parent/carers find out what additional support is identified through the EHC Plan process to meet the outcome needs of the child/young person. The relevant services/support agreed is then arranged by the Local Authority or health service. This is sometimes referred to as a notional budget.

Third party arrangement/nominees

A third party organisation, trust or nominated person holds the money and supports parent/carers/young person to purchase the service/support from the agreed outcome needs of the child/young person identified in their EHC Plan.

A combination of the above

A combination of direct payment, an arrangement, and third party arrangements/nominees can be used to manage a personal budget.

A direct payment is where individuals receive the cash to contract, purchase and manage services themselves, or it is agreed that the Local Authority will pay a direct payment to a nominated third party on the individual’s behalf.

Where a direct payment is being used to contract a member of staff, a consistent rate of pay apply for a person undertaking a caring or support role.  Payment for a qualified teacher, or instructor varies and will be paid according to the level of qualification required to deliver provision, on a case by case basis.

Direct payments for special educational provision, health care and social care provision are subject to separate regulations. These are currently:

  • The Community Care, services for Carers and Children’s Services (Direct Payments) Regulations 2009 (the 2009 regulations will be replaced by those made under the Care Act 2014)
  • The National Health Service (Direct Payments) Regulations 2013
  • The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014

Detailed arrangements of the direct payment will be detailed within section J of an Education Health and Care Plan.

A parent/carer or young person can make a request for a personal budget for consideration during the assessment stage of an EHC Plan, or, at the review meeting of an existing EHC Plan.

There may be reasons why it is not possible for parents/carers or young people to receive direct payments, such as, releasing funding has an adverse effect on other services which the Local Authority or Health provides or arranges for other children / young people.

For a full list of exceptions please refer to ‘The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014‘.

Deciding on how a personal budget can be managed especially if you are considering a direct payment is not easy. Often the use of a direct payment may mean you are considering becoming an employer yourself, which will mean you managing payroll, DBS checks and other associated functions.

SENDIASS North East Lincolnshire, are able to provide information and advice to children, young people and their families about personal budgets.

Additional information can also be found on these websites:

These are examples of companies families have used in the past:

AK Payroll

North East Lincolnshire Council will provide you with an option to use a separately funded payroll service and they will manage the personal budget on the child’s behalf.  This includes salary, national insurance, and pension. There is a charge for this, costs will be factored into the personal budget.

Decision’s about personal budget requests will be considered by the service area affected, with a final decision made at a multi-disciplinary SEND panel.  This will usually be the SEND case panel, or the Exceptional placements panel.  Please see the appendix for full details and an outline of the panels and the process.

Where a decision for a personal budget is declined, a child, young person, or their parent or carer can expect the Local Authority to:

  • inform in writing the child’s parent or the young person of
    1. its decision
    2. the reasons for its decision
    3. and the right to request a review of the decision
  • where requested to do so, review its decision and in carrying out the review consider any representations made by the child’s parent or the young person
  • inform in writing the child’s parent or the young person of the outcome of the review, giving reasons.

Education personal budgets

You must have an EHC plan to get a Personal Budget for special educational provision. A personal budget is optional, you don’t have to have one.

A personal budget for education can be used for things that will support the child or young person to achieve their educational outcomes as set out in their EHC Plan. Some examples of this might be:

  • Technology support for learning such as specialist IT equipment
  • Support for communication with others
  • Support to join an educational activity or club
  • Additional specialist support to achieve an outcome
  • Equipment to support access to educational outcomes

Personal budgets may therefore offer a different and flexible way of meeting the needs and delivering the provision identified in a child’s or young person’s EHC plan, but do not provide additional funding or support above and beyond this.

Personal budgets cannot be used to:

Personal Health Budgets

A personal health budget may be used for continuing health care for children and young people in line with the government’s ongoing personalisation agenda.

There are five essential components of a Personal Health Budget.  The patient with the Personal Health Budget (or their Representative) must:

  1. Be able to choose the health outcomes they want to achieve to improve their health and wellbeing.
  2. Know how much money they have for their health care and support.
  3. Be enabled to create their own plan, with support if they want it from the CCG.
  4. Be able to choose how their budget is held and managed.
  5. Be able to spend the money in ways and at times that make sense to them, as agreed in their plan.

A personal health budget cannot be used for:

  • Purchasing alcohol, tobacco, funding gambling or debt repayment, anything that is illegal
  • Emergency or urgent care including inpatient care.
  • Purchasing services which are run by the local authority.
  • Purchasing services provided by the NHS such as primary medical care including dental and GP services.
  • Purchasing services from a close family member who lives at the same address as you are other than in exceptional circumstances.

These are some of the main points but these lists are not exhaustive.

Principles of a Personal Health Budget

  Our underpinning principles for providing Personal Health Budgets are:

  • Patients and their carers will be central to all processes
  • Services will be personalised regardless of who pays and whether they are delivered by the statutory or private sector
  • The delivery of Personal Health Budgets will be managed within the agreed budgetary provision affordable to the Local Authority as part of its annual financial plan.

The Local Authority acknowledges that people have the right to ask for a Personal Health Budget, but the capacity and resources to meet all requests is likely to result in the need to prioritise individuals in the local process.

Following a clinical assessment, an indicative budget will be offered based on a fair and transparent allocation process, with which the patient will begin to develop an individual plan to meet their holistic needs for their health and well-being. This plan must be legal, effective, affordable, and meet a range of agreed outcomes. This will then help calculate an agreed final Personal Health Budget. The freedom to prioritise what is important in their lives is a fundamental shift in roles and responsibilities for both the patient and the health professional.

Patients, supported by their parents/guardian where appropriate, in close liaison with health professionals, will identify their desired outcomes and plan their support within the proposed allocation of money.

Social Care personal budgets

For personal social care budgets for children and young people under 18, local authorities are under a duty to offer direct payments for services which the local authority may provide to children with disabilities, or their families, under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (Defined as Child In Need).

For people aged 18 and over, the Care Act 2014 mandates that a Personal Budget as part of the care and support plan for people over 18 with eligible care and support needs, or where the local authority decides to meet needs.

A personal social care budget can be used for

  • Help with personal care
  • Day Care services both traditional and non-traditional
  • Help with daily living activities
  • Support to promote independence
  • Supporting employment needs
  • Short stay/respite care both traditional and non-traditional
  • Personal Assistant costs
  • To provide supported accommodation, where this is not funded by Housing Benefits or Supporting People
  • Better access to transport
  • Equipment to help you to be as independent as possible or assist you in employment
  • Other services identified in your support plan

You cannot use your Direct Payment to pay for:

  • Any expenditure/activity that isn’t in your support plan
  • Employing someone who lives in the same household (unless there are exceptional reasons which have been agreed with the Local Authority)
  • Residential care or Nursing Care Services
  • Any activity that is illegal
  • Services that can be obtained free of charge (e.g., dentistry, eye care, health care)
  • Any activity that puts you or others at risk of serious harm
  • Expenditure on drugs, tobacco, or alcohol
  • Clothing and jewellery
  • Food/heating/lighting/general household or living expenses
  • Rent or housing costs
  • Any form of building works
  • Aids and adaptations which should be funded from other sources
  • General Bank charges
  • Mobile phone charges
  • Payments to purchase and/or maintain ordinary household items, unless this is explicitly specified in your Support Plan, and meets an agreed need, (e.g., an individual budget would not normally be used to help someone pay to repair their central heating boiler or shower, or to buy carpets.)
  • Gifts
  • Cash Withdrawals
  • Gambling
  • Purchasing Food and Drink
  • Transport Costs that would be part of a child or young person’s daily routine e.g. to school.

  1. Request made

    Request for personal budget made when the Local Authority has carried out an EHC assessment and confirmed it will prepare an EHC plan or via an annual review or reassessment.  A request can only be made where the needs of the child are being reviewed, as a result of a change.

    Request is timetabled at the appropriate panel for multi-disciplinary discussion to consider what is being requested, suitability of the request, resource already available to meet need.
  2. Decision making

    All requests would be placed on the SEND EHCP panel agenda for final multi-disciplinary discussion and final decision making, ensuring that there are no gaps in provision or overlap between the three areas that could potentially be involved in funding a personal budget.
  3. Governance

    Complex SEND panel minutes decisions made which provides appropriate challenge from a multi-disciplinary team.
  4. What if the Local Authority declines the request?

    Where parents/carers  or a young person disagree with the Local Authority’s decision not to agree to a personal budget request, they can make representations to the Local Authority.

    This will be placed on the next available agenda at either the SEND EHCP panel or exceptional cases/placement multi-disciplinary panel to be heard with a final decision made.

All decisions about personal budgets will be communicated in writing.  Where a decision is made to not agree a personal budget, reasons for this decision will also be outlined, together with the process for seeking a review of the decision.

All decisions about personal budgets will be communicated in writing.  Where a decision is made to not agree a personal budget, reasons for this decision will also be outlined, together with the process for seeking a review of the decision.

Requests for personal budgets will be considered at the following panels depending upon the request that is being made.  All three panels are multi-disciplinary and meet weekly.

SEND assessment panel

A request may be made to the SEND assessment panel if an assessment for a plan has been made, and an element of a child’s provision is requested through a personal budget.


A request will be heard and discussed at this panel, where a child has a plan and there is a change of need reflected through an annual review, or an emergency annual review.

SEND exceptional cases/placement panel

A request will be heard and discussed at this panel, where a child has a plan and there is a significant change in need resulting in highly specialised or bespoke provision. 

Download the SEND Personal Budgets Policy (Word, 49 KB)