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Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

A young boy puts coins into his ceramic piggy bank.

We can help you to understand what Personal Budgets and Direct Payments are, who can have access to them and how to do so.

Personal Budgets

A Personal Budget for Special Educational Needs (SEN) is money set aside to pay for support to meet the needs and outcomes specified in an (EHC Plan) for a child or young person.

Personal Budgets can include funds from the local authority for education and social care and from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for health.

A Personal Budget allows families more choice in the way their child can be supported and who provides the support. Parents must always be involved in planning a Personal Budget.

There are 4 ways you can use a Personal Budget:

  1. an Arrangement or Notional Budget: where the local authority, school or college will look after the Personal Budget for you
  2. a Direct Payment: where you can receive money directly to manage all or part of the Personal Budget yourself
  3. a Third Party Arrangement: where you can opt to have someone else to manage the Personal Budget for you
  4. a mixture of some or all these arrangements

See further information and contact details regarding (City of York Council).

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Eligibility for Personal Budgets

Parents of a child with an EHC Plan, or a young person with an EHC Plan, can request a Personal Budget 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, but once you have an EHC Plan, or one is being prepared, you can request budgets for all 3 areas of support: education, health and social care.

You must have an EHC Plan to get a Personal Budget for special educational provision. If you have an EHC Plan a Personal Budget is optional, you don’t have to have one.

A young person with an EHC Plan can ask for their own Personal Budget after the end of the school year in which they become 16.

Sometimes the local authority may refuse to prepare a Personal Budget for a family. 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, but you could ask the local authority to reconsider their decision.

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Use of Personal Budget funding

Personal Budgets for SEN can only fund the support set out in an EHC Plan. This must be agreed by the local authority for education and care support, and by the health authority for the health provision.

Having a Personal Budget doesn’t mean that your child or young person will get extra funding. However, it should mean that you have more say in how the money that has been allocated is spent.

A Personal Budget for educational provision cannot cover payment for a place at the school or college. Also, any funding spent in an alternative way takes away this support from the EHC Plan. For example, a child has support from a teaching assistant and parents wish to have a Personal Budget to use this funding in a different way, the child would receive fewer hours of support from the teaching assistant.

Mainstream schools, academies and free schools receive resources to support pupils with SEN through their main budget, or core funding - this is known as their 'notional SEN budget'.

A school’s budget is calculated through a funding formula which the local authority uses to determine the actual allocation for its schools. It will use factors such as ‘deprivation’ and ‘low prior attainment’ to account for pupils with high needs in your child’s school.

A school’s notional budget provides the funding for SEN support (the first £6,000). For schools in the City of York Council area any additional funding (over £6,000) is funded through an EHC plan. The funding provided by the local authority is known as Top-Up Funding or Element 3 Funding. SEN support funding (the first £6000) can’t be accessed through a Personal Budget, only the to-up funding can be used.

You can find out more about what can be included in a Personal Budget in Sections 9.110 to 9.118 of the .

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Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

A Personal Budget shows you what money there is to make some of 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. This is commonly found in social care, where parents and carers prefer to employ a personal assistant rather than use the local authority’s Short Break service.

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 agrees. 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, or if 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 you will get will depend on what had been specified in the EHC Plan, so the amount of funding will vary from one person to another.

However, if the local authority agreed to make a Direct Payment it must be enough to pay for the service or services specified in the EHC Plan.

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Other available Personal Budget funding

Personal Budgets may be issued for health provision - a Personal Health Budget. Personal Budgets may also be issued for social care provision, such as Fair Access to Short Breaks.

Some or all of the provision for these purposes may be managed using a Direct Payment.

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