What is a Personal Budget?
A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. A Personal Budget is made available if a child/young person is assessed as needing additional and individual support from education, health and/or social care.
The local authority or health service traditionally uses this money to purchase services on behalf of the child/young person and their parents. However, a Personal Budget can be used to give the child's parent and/or the young person choice and control about the services they receive.
As part of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan), a child's parent or the young person will have the right to request a Personal Budget to meet an assessed need within an EHC Plan. Personal Budgets are optional for a child's parent or the young person but local authorities have a duty to prepare a budget when requested.
There are four ways in which the child's parent and/or the young person can be involved in securing provision:
- Direct payments - where a child's parent and/or the young person receive the cash to contract, purchase and manage services themselves.
- An arrangement - whereby the local authority, school or college holds the funds and commissions the support specified in the plan (these are sometimes called notional budgets)
- Third party arrangements - where funds (direct payments) are paid to and managed by an individual or organisation on behalf of a child's parent or the young person
- A combination of the above.
What services lend themselves to a Personal Budget?
Personal Budgets for Short Breaks Funding is available, and as part of an EHC we could offer Personal Budgets for aspects of:
- Special Educational Needs Funding (High Needs Funding)
- Continuing Health Care Funding
- Home to School Transport Funding
Who is eligible for a Personal Budget?
A child's parent or the young person has a right to request a Personal Budget, when:
- the local authority has completed an Education, Health and Care needs assessment and confirmed that it will prepare an EHC Plan.
- a statutory review of an existing EHC Plan takes place.
- a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Learning Difficulty Assessment is converted to an EHC Plan.
What is the scope for a Personal Budget?
Personal Budgets are linked to outcomes on the child/young person's Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) and will be bespoke depending on the child/young persons assessed needs.
Education: This may vary depending on school preference. For example, as part of their core provision, special schools and colleges make specialist provision available that is not normally available. The particular choice of a special school, with integrated specialist provision, may reduce the scope for a Personal Budget.
Health: Personal Health Budgets for healthcare are not appropriate for all of the aspects of NHS care. Since April 2014, everyone receiving NHS Continuing Healthcare (Adults -18 years of age and over) has had the right to ask for a Personal Health Budget. From October 2014 this group have 'a right to have' a Personal Health Budget and is available in city. However, the Continuing Care Framework for children (0-18 years of age) is currently not operational and is being developed. From April 2015 Personal Health Budgets including direct payments should be an option for people with long-term health needs. This includes people who use NHS services outside NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Social Care: Under the Care Act 2014 people over 18 with eligible care and support needs have a right to request a direct payment to meet some or all of their care and support needs (this covers people with and without capacity to request a direct payment). 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.
What can direct payments be used for?
As part of a Personal Budget, a direct payment can be made directly to the child's parent, the young person or their nominee, allowing them to arrange provision specified themselves.
However, local authorities cannot make direct payments for the purpose of funding a school place or post-16 institution.
Direct payments for health require the agreement of a Care Plan between the CCG and the recipient. (This requirement can be fulfilled by sections G and J of the EHC Plan as long as it includes the stipulated information).
How will the decision be made?
Each request for a Personal Budget will be considered on its own individual merits.
Where the local authority is unable to identify a sum of money, a child's parent or young person will be informed of the reasons. For example, the local authority might agree that the provision is needed but may be unable, at this point in time, to disaggregate funding that is currently supporting provision of services to a number of children and young people.
Where a Personal Budget is able to be offered, a written notice of the conditions for receipt of any direct payment will be made. However, where a direct payment is proposed for special educational provision, local authorities must secure the agreement of the early years setting, school or college, if any of the provision is to be delivered on that institution's premises. Where agreement cannot be reached with the early years setting, school or college, the local authority must not go ahead with the direct payment.
Details of the proposed Personal Budget will be set out in Section J of the EHC Plan and, where the proposed budget includes direct payments for special educational provision, this section will include the special educational needs and outcomes to be met by the payment.
What will happen if the request is refused?
If the local authority refuses a request for a direct payment for special educational provision, the local authority must set out their reasons in writing and inform the child's parent or the young person of their right to request a formal review of the decision. The local authority will consider any subsequent representation made by the child's parent or the young person and notify them of the outcome, in writing, setting out the reasons for their decision.
Where the disagreement relates to the special educational provision to be secured through a Personal Budget, the child's parent or the young person can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability), as with any other disagreement about provision to be specified in an EHC Plan.
Decisions in relation to the health element (Personal Health Budget) remain the responsibility of the CCG or other health commissioning bodies and where they decline a request for a direct payment, they must set out the reasons in writing and provide the opportunity for a formal review.
The local authority and the CCG are/will be commissioning In Control (a National organisation who has led on the work around Personalised Budgets) to assist in the development of joint policy and procedure in this area.