This information is about personal budgets for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).
What is a Personal Budget?
A Personal Budget for SEN is money allocated to pay for the support specified in an Education, Health and Care plan. It can include funds from the local authority for education and social care. It can also include funds from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for health.
There are four ways you can use a personal budget:
- Sometimes the local authority, school or college will look after the Personal Budget for you. This is called an Arrangement or a Notional Budget
- Sometimes you can receive money directly to manage all or part of the Personal Budget yourself. This is called a Direct Payment
- Sometimes you can opt to have someone else to manage the Personal Budget for you. This is called a Third Party Arrangement
- Sometimes you can have a mixture of some or all of these arrangements
Who can have a Personal Budget?
Parents of a child with an EHC plan, or a young person with an EHC plan, can request a Personal Budget. This can be done either during the drafting of an EHC plan, or once the plan has been issued and is under review.
You do not need to have an EHC plan to get Personal Budgets for social and health care. Once you have an EHC plan, or one is being prepared, you can also request a budget for special educational provision. However, you do not have to have a Personal Budget.
The SEND Code of Practice says that local authorities must provide information on Personal Budgets as part of the Local Offer. You can find links to this information at the bottom of this page under 'Where can I find further information'.
A young person with an EHC plan can ask for their own Personal Budget after the end of the school year in which they turn 16.
Sometimes the local authority or the health authority may not agree to a Personal Budget. If the local authority refuses a personal budget for special educational provision it must tell you why. You cannot appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal over this refusal.
What can a Personal Budget be used for?
Personal Budgets can be used only to fund the support set out in an EHC plan. This must be agreed by the local authority for education and care support. The health provision must be agreed by the health authority.
You can find out what can be included in a Personal Budget in the Local Offer.
A Personal Budget for educational provision cannot cover payment for a place at a school or college. A Personal Budget can include any top up funding. This is known as Element 3 funding. It can also include support that is managed by the school or college if the Head Teacher or Principal agree.
You can find out more about what can be included in a Personal Budget in Sections 9.110 to 9.118 of the SEND Code of Practice.
What is the difference between a Personal Budget and a Direct Payment?
A Personal Budget shows you what money is allocated for the provision specified in an EHC plan, and who provides it. The parent or young person does not actually manage the funds directly.
With a Direct Payment the parent or young person is given the money for some services and manages the funds themselves. The parent or young person is responsible for buying the service and paying for it.
A Personal Budget can include a Direct Payment if it is agreed that this is the best way to manage part of the Personal Budget.
Direct Payments can be used for special educational provision in a school or college only if the school or college agree. Local authorities can refuse a Direct Payment for special educational provision if:
- it would make things worse for other children and young people with an EHC plan
- it would be an inefficient way to pay for services
It is also possible to have a Third Party Arrangement to manage a Direct Payment.
How much will I get if I have Direct Payments?
How much you get will depend on what has been set out in the EHC plan. It will vary from one person to another.
If the local authority has agreed to make a Direct Payment it must be enough to pay for the service or services specified in the EHC plan.
Are there other kinds of Personal Budget?
Yes. Some people have had Personal Budgets for health provision (a Personal Health Budget) and for social care provision (e.g. Fair Access to Short Breaks). They may have managed some or all of the provision using a Direct Payment.
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