What is a personal budget

A personal budget is an amount of money allocated by the council to deliver all or some of the services and support set out in your child's Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Parents or carers of a child or young person with a disability or special educational need (SEN) may be entitled to a personal budget following a referral and assessment.

It gives you more choice and control over the services that your child gets.

A child or a young person may have a personal budget from:

  • health 
  • social care 
  • education 

These can form part of an EHC plan or be standalone plans if no educational needs are identified.

How you get a personal budget

The funding is available to those children and young people with a disability or special educational need who meet the criteria  for that service. 
The council has a duty to prepare a personal budget when:

  • you request one and it's been confirmed that an EHC plan will be prepared
  • your child is assessed as having a permanent or substantial disability that has a considerable impact at home and when out and about in the community 

If your child meets the eligibility criteria in more than one area and has a disability or special educational need, the resource is combined to meet the outcomes in their EHC Plan through joint planning. 

How personal budgets are given

A personal budget could be:

  • paid to you as a direct payment so that you can buy services for your child
  • held by the council (for education) or the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (for health) so that they buy in some or all of the services for your child
  • managed by an individual or organisation for you 
  • managed using a combination of all three options. For example, we could provide a short break service and you use a direct payment to pay for a personal assistant 

If your child has had an Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment

When your child has had an Education, Health and Care needs assessment and it's been confirmed that an EHC plan will be prepared, you have the option of asking for a personal budget.

You can also ask for a Personal Budget during a statutory review of an existing EHC plan.

What you can use a personal budget for

You can use a personal budget to pay for services identified as a need in your child's EHC plan or support plan. These can include:

  • carers or personal assistants to work in the home
  • aids, adaptations and equipment to help your child with everyday tasks
  • activities which help you or your child to join in with local clubs or activities 

You can find out more about what can be included in a personal budget in sections 9.95 to 9.118 of the SEND Code of Practice.

If your child has an EHC plan 

Section J of your child's EHC Plan covers the personal budget. It describes: 

  • how the personal budget will support particular outcomes for your child
  • how it'll be used 
  • how flexible you can be in using it
  • details of any direct payment that will be made for social care 

If your child has a Child in Need plan

The child in need plan will set out what social care, other professionals and your family agrees to do to address the needs identified in a social care assessment. 

This will include what care and support is made available to the family through a direct payment or personal budget.

Personal social care budget

A social care assessment is carried out to decide how your needs can be met and whether a personal budget could meet your assessed needs.

A personal budget can be paid to you or your child if they're over 16 as direct payments to manage yourself with support from Disabled Children's Services.

What we mean by a direct payment and how to apply

Money is paid into a Bristol Direct Payment card account, which is similar to a current account from your bank. Disabled Children's Services set this account up for you.

How the account works.

You can use a social care personal budget to:

  • employ people you want to support you
  • buy a service from a care provider
  • buy equipment
  • buy short breaks

You may choose to employ a personal assistant to support you. In Bristol, the Disabled Children Service can support you to meet your legal obligations relating to paying employees. The inclusion team, who are part of Disabled Children's Services can help you arrange this.

Help to manage your child's social care personal budget

Social care practitioners support families who have a personal budget and can give advice on managing their direct payments You can contact them through the Disabled Children's Services team: 0117 9038250.

See our pdf guidance on using direct payments (123 KB) , which includes:

  • flexible use during COVID-19
  • auditing and monitoring requirements

Read our  pdf report of feedback from families who had direct payments during COVID-19. (130 KB)

Personal health budget

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support the identified healthcare and wellbeing needs of an individual. 

It is planned and agreed between you, on behalf of your child, and the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Personal budgets are currently available through Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG and are available for those who meet Children's Continuing Care criteria.

Personal health budgets are a way of giving people with complex health conditions and disabilities more choice and control over the money spent on meeting their health and wellbeing needs.

A personal health budget may be used for a range of things to meet the agreed health and wellbeing outcomes. A personalised care and support plan will identify what the budget can be used for.

You can find out more about who can have a personal health budget on the local Clinical Commissioning Group's website.

Personal education budget

A personal education budget:

  • is funding to meet the individual education needs of a child or young person in their EHC plan 
  • may also include additional learning support funding in their EHC plan

You can use a personal education budget to:

  • add to learning support your child already gets
  • fund some educational input
  • fund work experience or work-based learning opportunities
  • add to the technology available to your child to support how they learn

You can't use a personal education budget to fund a school or college place.

If you don't agree with the support or amount in your child's personal budget

If you don't agree with the support or the amount in your child's budget, then you can make a complaint. You may wish to ask for help from an advocacy service