Your child may be entitled to a personal budget. This is money your local authority provides to cover your child’s changing care and support costs.
Your child will be assessed to create a care and support plan around their health, social and educational needs. How much money you get depends on:
the type and level of support your child needs
your family’s situation and needs
the services already available in your area
There’s no set list of things you can use a personal budget for. It depends on what you feel your child needs and if the assessor agrees.
You may want a personal budget to:
hire a personal assistant (PA) to help your child with everyday care
buy special equipment not provided by the NHS
pay for leisure or educational activities and transport costs
Warning If you live in Wales
The application process is different in Wales. You can apply for self-directed support through social services. This is similar to a personal budget.
Who is eligible for a personal budget
Because personal budgets are based on individual needs and many pieces of legislation, there are no set criteria for who is eligible. Your local authority should be able to explain how they make their decisions and how long it will take.
The Children Act 1989 (GOV.UK) considers any disabled child under 18 ‘a child in need'. Local authorities have a duty to provide support.
Depending on your child’s age and needs, you can start the process and apply for an assessment through:
your child’s school or Special Educational Needs (SEN) team
The assessor will arrange a visit with you and your child. They will explain the process. Ask them to explain if anything is unclear.
They will assess health, social and educational needs separately but combine them into a single plan. If your child has multiple needs, you will be referred to other departments for more assessments. Each assessment is separate.
This can take time but they must start the process within 6 weeks. Contact your first assessor who made the referral if you do not hear anything in that time.
You can apply for an assessment directly through social services. Under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, your child may be entitled to what is called ‘self-directed support’. This is similar to a personal budget. You receive payments to cover care and support costs.
Pooled payment, where direct payments from people with similar needs can be added together to pay for a service.
Pooled payments are paid to the service provider. For example, your direct payment could go towards funding a special unit at your child’s school.
If there's already a service in your area that meets your child's needs, you may need to use that service instead of organising your own. You can check what’s available with your local authority, health board or your child’s school.
Managing the personal budget
You do not have to manage your child's personal budget yourself. You can nominate someone to manage it for you or use the local authority services.
You can also choose to receive part of the budget if there are specialist services or equipment you want to organise yourself, such as support for activities like swimming or a customised wheelchair.
If your child is 16 or older and is assessed to have the capacity to do so, they can ask to manage their own payment or nominate someone to manage it for them.