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What is a Personal Budget?

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A Personal Budget is an agreed amount of money per year that can be paid to you by your local authority or council:

  • social care services 
  • health services, or
  • education services

Personal Budgets can be agreed following an assessment of your care and support needs.

Your Personal Budget would be the amount of money needed to meet your eligible social care, health or education needs. This is also sometimes called an indicative budget meaning it indicates or gives and idea of the cost of services that are needed by you. 

Taking the funding as a personal budget allows you or someone supporting you for example you parent/carer to choose  how the money for your care and support is spent and helps you to have more control over how the support is provided.

A Personal Budget can help disabled people to live active lives and take part in society supporting you to reach the goals / outcomes agreed in your support planning.


Page last updated: 30/07/18

Who can get a Personal Budget?

Parents or young people can request a personal budget and can discuss how to do this and if it would be appropriate during an assessment. As a personal budget is used to achieve outcomes that have been agreed in a plan people who would be eligible would have had an assessment for one of these:

  • Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • Health Plan (especially for Continuing Health Care needs)
  • Child In Need Plan  (because of a Social Care Needs assessment)

Personal budgets can provide a family or young person with more choiceflexibility and control, helping them to live more independently and build resilience by creatively using existing resources in different ways.

A personal budget could be considered where needs cannot be met by existing mainstream or targeted services.

Not everyone can get a Personal Budget. In some cases an EHC assessment may not result in a child or young person having personal budget because the supports needed cannot be paid for in that way.

You may still be able to get a Direct Payment or and Individual Budget from some services even if you don’t meet the threshold for a Personal Budget.

A child or young person may have a Personal Budget from more than one source, i.e. social care, education and or health. This would be discussed at a planning meeting if it was appropriate.

Personal Budgets and Direct Payments are based on assessed need and are a way of receiving services.

They do not count as earnings / income so they do not affect your tax or the amount of benefits you get.

How we agree if a Personal Budget is right for you...

Since September 2014 all children and young people who have been assessed as needing one have either been provided with or tranfered to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan).

Being assessed for an EHC plan will show if you need a Personal Budget.

Coordinated assessments and planning to develop the EHC plan will help us think about which area (education or training needs, social care needs, health needs) might be suited to being provided for using a Personal Budget.

Children and young people who require health or social care support but do not require an Education Health and Care plan can still get support from these services.

What can I spend a personal budget on?

It sounds obvious, but Personal Budgets can't be spent on anything that would put a child or young person at risk of harm or on anything that would not clearly benefit the child or young person.

It cannot be used to buy statutory services from a Local Authority, but a 'mixed' approach is possible.

A child’s needs could be met in part by a Local Authority service and part by direct payments, or cash.

Families receiving Personal Heath Budgets cannot use the funds for emergency GP services because these would already be provided. 

It cannot be used to employ a family member who lives with the child, though there may be exceptional circumstances where a Local Authority will agree to this. 

How to pay for services with a Personal Budget...

The amount of money agreed for a Personal Budget will depend on the needs identified in an assessment for a plan.

It should be enough to meet the assessed needs of the person receiving the budget.

A Personal Budget is different from personalisation and is a ‘cashable’ sum of money.

Personalisation is an approach used when planning.

Find out more: What is Person Centred Planning?

If eligible you can decide how to get your personal budget.

There are three choices:

  • By Direct Payments – which mean you manage the budget, secure the service and are required to show evidence of how you spent it and what it achieved.
  • Have a third party or brokerage service manage the budget for you. They would take on the responsibility for managing the funds and evidencing how they were spent and what they achieved. You would still choose how your care needs are met and by whom.
  • Leave the local authority with responsibility to commission the services. This is also called a notional or managed budget.

Or you could have a combination of these if that was the best way of getting what was neded.

Direct Payments...

Direct payments are cash payments given instead of services to people who have been assessed as needing particular services. Having a Direct payment instead of directlly having the service provided for you is intended to give you greater choicecontrol and flexibility over your care.

The amount paid must be enough to buy the services needed to meet the agreed need, and must only be spent on services that do this.

Direct payments give you the responsibility to decide how your eligible needs are met. This can be done either by:

  • employing people often known as personal assistants
  • by commissioning services for yourself

You need to open a separate bank account only for this amount and share the information on how it is spent with the service providing the funding.

Making it personal – A family guide to personalisation, personal budgets and Education, Health and Care Plans

Find out more: Direct Payments in Hackney

Adult Services can provide a Brokerage Service for young people aged 18-25 plus.

You can get support with managing your budget from the Direct Payment Support Team.

Payments Support

Hackney Service Centre

1 Hillman Street

E8 1DY

Phone: 020 8356 2354 or 0208 356 4020


Web: Hackney – Direct Payments Support

Individual Budgets

Some families who receive Short Breaks have Personal Budgets described as  Individual Budgets.

This is a cash value sum they can use to take part in social and leisure activities with the support they need or to create bespoke packages of activities that meet their needs.

Evidence of how this has been spent to benefit you (if you are a young person) or your child must be provided so you can continue to be eligible for an Individual Budget.

This might be receipts or a bank statement showing how the money was spent and on what. 

To find out more contact: Short Breaks 

Phone: Short Breaks at Hackney Learning Trust - 0208 356 6796

Personal Budgets - Brokerage

Disabled Children’s Service / DCS

The DCS team undertakes a Child and Family Needs Assessment to see what support the family needs.

The outcome of this assessment could lead to a support package in the form of Direct Payments, or through an approved care agency.

Adult Services provide a Brokerage Service for young people aged 18-25 plus.

Children and Young People's Access and Assessment Social Work Service - 

Hackney First Access Screening Team (FAST)

Phone: 0208 356 5500

Do I have to have a Personal Budget?

No, nobody will force you to have a Personal Budget. It is a choice and you decide if it’s right for you.

If you don’t want a Personal Budget, you will still be able to get services in the usual way from the local authorities Education, Health or Social Care Services.

Who can I contact to find out more?

To speak to someone about Personal Budgets from Social Care:

For children aged 0-18 . If you are eligible for support following a social care assessment, your social worker will advise you of the options available.

Disabled Children’s Service

For young people aged 18-25 plus. If you are eligible for support following a social care assessment, your social worker will advise you of the options available.

Adult Social Care in Hackney

To speak to someone about Personal Health Budgets:

If you are assessed as eligible for Continuing Health Care, then the Children Community Nursing Team will talk to you about a Personal Health Budget.

Children Community Nursing Team

To speak to someone about Education Personal Budgets:

If you are eligible as a result of an EHC assessment, the named Plan Coordinator or Hackney SENDIAGS (SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service) can talk to you about how the process works.

To find out who your Plan Coordinator is look at your EHC plan paperwork or contact:

Special Educational Needs Administration Team

Education, Health and Care Planning Team

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