Personal Budgets for Special Educational Needs
What is a Personal Budget?
A Personal Budget for Special Educational Needs (SEN) is money identified to pay for support specified in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for a child or young person with special educational needs. It can include funds from the local authority for education and social care and from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for health.
Personal budgets can be used in the following ways:
- 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 these arrangements
Who can request a Personal Budget?
Parents of a child with an EHCP, or a young person with an EHCP (at the end of the school year in which they become 16) can request a Personal Budget either during the drafting stage of the EHCP or during the review process where a plan has been issued.
You must have an EHCP to request a Personal Budget for special educational provision. You do not need to have an EHCP to request Personal Budgets for social and health care, but once you have an EHCP, or one is being prepared, you can request budgets for all three areas of support.
The SEND Code of Practice says (9.96):
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 EHCP. This must be agreed by the local authority for education and care support, and by the health authority for the health provision.
Local authorities must provide information on Personal Budgets as part of their Local Offer.
A Personal Budget for educational provision cannot cover payment for a place at the school or college.
The SEND Code of Practice says:
Where a direct payment is proposed for special educational provision, local
authorities must secure the agreement of the early years setting, school or college, if
any of the provision is to be delivered on that institution’s premises. (9.104).
What is the difference between a Personal Budget and a Direct Payment?
A Personal Budget shows you what money there is to make some of the provision specified in an EHCP 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. 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 get will depend on what has been set out in the EHC plan, so 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.
You can find out more information about personal budgets by reading:
- SEND Code of Practice– chapter 9 (9.9-9.124).
- North Lincolnshire’s SEND Local Offer | What are Personal Budgets? – SEND Local Offer (northlincslocaloffer.com)