What is a Personal Budget?
It is an amount of money identified by the local authority that enables parents or young people to have more choice and control over securing the provision specified in their EHC Plan.
When can a Personal Budget be requested?
A parent or young person has a right to request a Personal Budget when the local authority has completed an assessment and confirmed that it will be issuing an EHC Plan. Personal Budgets can also be requested during the annual review of an existing EHC Plan.
What can a Personal Budget be used for?
Subject to the criteria set out below, Personal Budgets should be focused on enabling parents or young people to manage or buy the provision specified in the education, health or care sections of their EHC Plan. They should be designed to help achieve the outcomes specified in the EHC Plan.
Can I receive a Personal Budget for all the provision sections of an EHC Plan?
Personal Budgets should reflect the holistic nature of an EHC Plan. They can include funding for special educational, health and social care provision.
There are four ways of delivering a Personal Budget:
- Direct Payments: Where individuals receive the cash to contract, purchase and manage services themselves. Amounts must be set at a level that will secure the provision specified in the EHC Plan for which the payment has been agreed;
- Notional Budgets: The local authority, school or college holds the funds and commissions the support specified in the EHC Plan. This is essentially what happens anyway, but it may be possible to provide specific information about the funding available and how it is used;
- Third Party Arrangements: Funds are paid to and managed by an individual or organisation on behalf of the child’s parent or the young person; or
- A combination of the above.
A Personal Budget can be provided for all or some of the special educational, health and care provision specified in an EHC plan. However, there are different criteria for each element.
- Special Educational Provision (Part F of the EHC Plan): Normally, this is provided from the “top-up” element of education funding to pay for the special educational provision an individual needs in their education setting. What can be provided will very much depend on how local services are commissioned and the educational institution being attended. See section 4 below for more detail.
- Health Provision (Part G of the EHC Plan): Children and adults who receive NHS Continuing Healthcare have the right to a personal health budget. The Clinical Commissioning Group also have the power to offer personal health budgets to other groups of patients if they think they will benefit. Further information on how to access a personal health budget can be found here
- Social Care Provision (Parts H1 & H2 of the EHC Plan): Sheffield City Council must offer direct payments for social care services which it has assessed as being needed by individual children and young people with disabilities aged under 18 or their families, such as short breaks services. For those aged 18 or over, Sheffield City Council must offer personal budgets to all disabled people with eligible social care needs. More information on the criteria for personal budgets in children’s or adult social care can be found here:
Children’s Care: Speak to your social worker or contact the Children With Disabilities team through First Point: www.sheffield.gov.uk/your-city-council/how-to-contact-us/first-point.html
Adult Care: Telephone 0114 273 4908. www.sheffield.gov.uk/caresupport/adult/how-get-support/chargesnonrescare/managingyourdp.html
Sheffield City Council and the CCG are working together to establish what additional components of special educational, health or social care provision detailed in an EHC Plan might be eligible for a Personal Budget in the future.
Children or young people without EHC Plans but who have continuing health care needs, a long-term condition or health need or who have eligible social care needs may be eligible for a personal budget for those services. Parents or young people should use the contact information at (ii) and (iii) above and/or in section 7 below to find out more.
Any Personal Budget for special educational provision can only be used for delivering some or all of the provision specified in Part F of an EHC Plan.
For example, a Personal Budget could be used to purchase a specific piece of IT or other equipment needed to assist learning in the educational setting; additional time from a support worker; or access to additional teaching time - where these things are specified in Part F of the EHC Plan.
Personal Budgets for special educational provision will not be provided for anything not specified in Part F of the EHC Plan. This includes the purchase of personal IT equipment; funding for access to positive activities; or to employ family members who live with the child or young person. Some of these things may be provided via the health or social care elements of a Personal Budget.
Once special educational provision is specified – or proposed to be specified – in an EHC Plan and a Personal Budget has been requested, the SEND Team will, if possible, provide an indicative figure of the amount of funding that will be required. Any allocation of funding must be sufficient to secure the provision specified in the EHC Plan that it has been agreed will be met through a Personal Budget. This must be detailed in Part F as part of specifying the provision being made.
In Sheffield, only funding for SEN Transport and “top-up” funding can be included in a Personal Budget for special educational provision at this current time. “Top-up” funding comes from the share of the high needs education budget allocated to localities of schools as part of the new way of working in Sheffield. “Top-up” funding is also provided to special schools and to the college and other post-16 providers for individual high needs students.
Personal Budgets are most likely to be available in those cases where specific, tailored special educational provision is needed for an individual child or young person and additional funding is attached to their EHC Plan. This can be made clear to parents and young people as part of their involvement in developing their EHC Plans.
The new way of working in Sheffield means that not all children and young people with EHC Plans will be allocated individual amounts of funding. In many cases, support will be provided through services provided by a school locality or by Sheffield City Council. In these cases, the SEND Team and the relevant locality will consider together how best to provide a personal budget in lieu of commissioned services. This means it may not always be possible to identify an amount of money that applies specifically to an individual. Where funding can be identified, it may not be possible to provide this as a Direct Payment without having an adverse effect on the ability of those services to support other children and young people with SEND.
Likewise, funding for special schools and other specialist providers is set at a level that enables them to provide specialist services to children and young people. It most cases, it will not be possible to use this funding to contribute towards a Personal Budget without adversely affecting the support provided to other children and young people.
The funding to meet the cost of a school or college place is not available for a Personal Budget. Schools and colleges can choose to contribute some of their own delegated SEN funding to a Personal Budget (up to the first £6,000 of support set out in Part F of the EHC Plan) but they are not obliged to do so.
Any special educational provision that would be delivered on the premises of an early years provider, school or college using a Direct Payment must have the agreement of that setting. Direct Payments must not be provided where the institution does not agree to the provision being delivered on their premises.
Personal budgets are optional for parents or young people. Those who want to request a Personal Budget for education, health or care should contact the SEND Manager with responsibility for their case - once it has been confirmed that an EHC Plan is being prepared. Parents or young people who do not have their SEND Manager’s details can email the SEND Team on
email@example.com or call the Duty Team on 0114 2736394.
Parents or young people wanting to request a Personal Budget as part of an annual review, should contact their SENCO (or equivalent at the college or other post-16 provider). They will raise this with the relevant SEND Manager.
Please note: if your child still has a statement of SEN, you will have to wait until they transfer over to an EHC Plan before you can ask for a Personal Budget for special educational provision. However, you may already be able to request a personal budget for your child’s health needs or social care provision. See sections 3 and 7 for details on how to contact those services to find out more.
The SEND Manager will discuss with the parents or young person what can be provided as a Personal Budget for special educational provision, and will refer and monitor any request to health or social care as required. Parents can also make requests for a personal budget or a social care budget directly to the relevant services at any time.
Details of Personal Budgets will be included in Section J of the draft EHC Plan. Where the Personal Budget is for special educational provision, this section will detail the SEN and outcomes to be met via the Personal Budget. At the same time as requesting a particular school, college or other institution, parents or young people should confirm their decision and agreement of the budget.
Where appropriate, this must include the parent or young person’s agreement in writing to the conditions for receipt of any agreed direct payment. Where the parent or young person has nominated a person to receive payments on their behalf, the written agreement must come from that individual.
All requests for Personal Budgets relating to special educational provision will be considered on their individual merits, in line with the guidance set out above and the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice. Sheffield City Council will inform parents or young people if it is unable to identify a sum of money for a Personal Budget. This will include the reasons why that funding cannot be made available.
If Sheffield City Council refuses a request for a direct payment for special educational provision, parents or young people will be informed and the reasons set out in writing. Parents or young people have a right to request a formal review of the decision and Sheffield City Council will consider any subsequent representations.
Parents or young people do not have the right to appeal to the SEN Tribunal if a Personal Budget or Direct Payment is refused. However, if any disagreement relates to the special educational provision to be secured through a Personal Budget, the parents or young person can appeal to the SEN Tribunal as with any other disagreement about provision to be specified in an EHC Plan.
Sheffield SENDIAS (formerly known as Parent Partnership) is part of Sheffield City Council and provides free and impartial information, advice and support to children and young people with SEND (aged 0-25) and their parents. They can advise on Personal Budgets for special educational provision and social care. Call SENDIAS on 0114 2736009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheffield Carers Centre offers advice, information and support groups for anyone who provides care for a child or an adult. They can provide advice on applying for a social care budget for young people approaching transition to adulthood.
The Continuing Health Care Team can offer advice, information and support with a Personal Health Budget, as well as signposting you to other organisations, or more specialist support planners, if this would be appropriate. Call the team on 0114 3053020 or email email@example.com