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What is a personal budget?

A personal budget is the total cost of meeting the special educational needs of a child or young person. It offers parents or young people more choice and control over their provision.

During the EHC assessment process or when an EHC plan is reviewed, parents or a young person can request a Personal Budget to support some of the outcomes in an EHC plan. A Personal Budget is an amount of money that is identified to meet some of the needs and outcomes described in the plan.

There are three types of personal budget:

  • A personal social care budget: for support at home and in the community, such as family support or a short break.
  • A personal health budget: for complex, long-term or life-limiting conditions, to help with equipment costs or other health services.
  • A personal SEN budget: for complex learning support needs that cannot be met by the school.

Not everyone has a personal budget, it will depend on the support that is needed and agreed in the EHC plan.  The benefits and responsibilities of a personal budget will be shared with you when you discuss your options, so that you can decide if a personal budget is right for you.

Managing a personal budget

Parents manage a child’s personal budget up until the end of year 11, the end of compulsory school age. After this, a young person can take responsibility for the budget if they have the capacity to do so.

Personal budgets can be managed in different ways:

  1. Direct Payments

Is where you receive the funding directly so that you can buy and manage services specified in the EHC plan yourself.

  1. An arrangement or notional budget

The council, school or college hold the funds and commission the support specified in the EHC plan.

  1. Third party arrangements

Where direct payments are paid to and managed by an individual or organisation on behalf of the child’s parents of the young person

  1. A combination of the above

Further information

Not everyone can have a personal budget and only certain types of support can be paid for using the money available.

Parents and young people are able to request a personal budget when the local authority has completed a statutory Education Health Care (EHC) assessment and confirmed that it will prepare an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). They may also request a personal budget during a statutory review of an existing EHCP.

A personal budget is a possibility when meeting the assessed special educational needs of a child or young person requires a flexible and personalised approach. The personal budget provides flexibility in providing what is different or additional to what is usually available from the setting, provider, or services (whether education, health or care), and must be designed to secure the outcomes in the child or young person’s EHCP.

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.

A personal budget must represent an efficient and effective use of resources (i.e. value for money), and must not have an adverse impact on other services.

Where a direct payment is proposed for special educational provision, the local authority 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.