This article covers personal budgets for special educational provision. These are only available to children and young people with EHC plans.
You do not need an EHC plan to access a personal budget for social care or healthcare. However, if you receive a personal health budget or a social care personal budget or direct payment, then this would normally be included in the personal budget section of the EHC plan.
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.
There are four ways of delivering a personal budget:
- Direct payments: You and your family receive a cash payment from which you can contract, purchase and manage services yourself. 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.
- A combination of the above.
What a personal budget can be used for
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.
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. “Top-up” funding comes from the share of the high needs education budget allocated to localities of schools. “Top-up” funding is also provided to special schools and colleges and other post-16 providers for individual students with high needs.
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 locality or by Sheffield City Council. 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), 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.
Requesting a personal budget
Personal budgets are optional for parents or young people. A parent or young person has a right to request a personal budget when the local authority has completed an EHC needs 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.
To request a personal budget as part of an annual review: Contact your SENCO (or equivalent at the college or other post-16 provider) before the annual review meeting. They will raise this with SENDSARS.
SENDSARS will discuss with you and your family what can be provided as a personal budget for special educational provision. Parents can also make requests for a personal health 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, National Curriculum area(s), equivalence to full-time education and mechanism for payment. At the same time as expressing a preference for a particular school, college or other educational setting, parents or young people should confirm their decision and agreement of the personal 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.
If a request for a personal budget is refused
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 in the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice. Sheffield City Council will inform you and your family 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, you and your family will be informed and the reasons set out in writing. You have a right to request a formal review of the decision and Sheffield City Council will consider any subsequent representations.
You 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, you and your family can appeal to the SEN Tribunal as with any other disagreement about provision to be specified in an EHC plan.
Additional advice and information about personal budgets
Sheffield SENDIAS 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 273 6009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: 16/04/2019
Information owner: SENDSARS