Personal budgets and special educational needs

Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans

A statutory assessment for an EHC Plan is not the first step in the process of meeting the needs of a child or young person with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The special educational needs of most children and young people will be met through high quality differentiated, personalised, inclusive provision and practice within early years settings, schools and colleges, including support given at the “SEN Support” Level. Further information can be found on the following pages:

Personal Budgets

Personal Budgets are an option for a young person with an EHC plan (aged over 16 years) or the parent of a child with an EHC plan.

A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver aspects of provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person (aged over 16 years) is involved in securing that provision.

The option of personal budgets is not the only means of personalisation for individuals with EHC plans. Personalisation is also achieved through person-centred planning approaches and the inclusion of children, young people and families in decision-making.

The purpose of a personal budget and what it can be used for

A Personal Budget is a possibility when meeting the assessed special educational needs of a child or young person requires a flexible and personalised approach. The personal budget provides flexibility in providing what is different or additional to what is usually available from the setting, provider or services (whether education, health or care) and must be designed to secure the outcomes in the child or young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan.

Personal Budgets may therefore offer a different and flexible way of meeting the needs and delivering the provision identified in a child’s or young person’s EHC plan, but do not provide additional funding or support above and beyond this.

A Personal Budget must represent an efficient and effective use of resources (i.e. value of money) and must not have an adverse impact on other services which Cheshire East Council, NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or NHS South Cheshire CCG provides or arranges for children and young people with an EHC plan (i.e. where contracts are already in place for a particular service).

What a personal budget can’t be used for

Personal budgets cannot be used to purchase a school or college place, or to supplement a school’s budget.

How an EHC Plan Personal Budget can be managed

There are four ways in which the child’s parent and/or the young person can be involved in securing provision via a Personal Budget: -

  • Notional budgets - an arrangement whereby the local authority, school or college holds the funds and commissions the support specified in the plan
  • Direct payments – where individuals receive the cash to contract, purchase and manage services themselves. This will be an amount of money managed by the family and which is spent as agreed in the Plan
  • Third party arrangements – where funds (direct payments) are paid to and managed by an individual or organisation on behalf of the child’s parent or the young person and commissions the support specified in the plan
  •  A combination of the above

Who can have a personal budget

A young person with an EHC plan (aged over 16 years) or the parent of a child with an EHC plan may choose to have a Personal Budget but are not obliged to do so. Support can still be given (as required) through an EHC plan without the use of a Personal Budget. A parent or young person has a right to request a Personal Budget when the local authority has completed an EHC needs assessment and confirmed that it will prepare an EHC plan. They may also request a Personal Budget during a statutory review of an existing EHC plan.

Personal budgets will be discussed during the process of developing an Education, Health and Care Plan and during the annual review of the Plan. There will not be a separate application process. All provision included within an EHC Plan, including any to be delivered via a Personal Budget, undergoes a moderation process to ensure fair and consistent decision making is in place.

Young People and Parent Carers will be given information, advice and guidance when considering and managing a personal budget.

Who cannot have a personal budget

There are some exceptions:

  • anyone who is not able to manage and account for a personal budget
  • people with certain criminal convictions will be excluded (drugs/alcohol)

The management and use of personal budgets will be monitored by the local authority.

Where the money comes from for personal budgets

Personal budgets can include funding from education, health and social care. However, the scope of an individual personal budget will depend on the needs of the child or young person, the eligibility criteria of the different components and the proposed mechanism for managing the personal budget.

Personal budgets for education are funded from the local authority High Needs Budget. Personal budgets are not funded from schools’ delegated budgets as standard; however schools may contribute to a personal budget if this is appropriate use of their funding.

Please note that the options for the education element of a personal budget for children or young people attending specialist provision are likely to be very limited, as such providers already receive additional funding for all pupils in order to provide integrated specialist support and facilities as part of their core offer.

How we know the personal budget is being used well

Local authority financial and resource monitoring systems will be in place and any elements of the budget that have not been used to secure the agreed provision will be taken back at the end of the year.

Progress and outcomes will be discussed at the annual review to demonstrate that the personal budget has had the intended impact.

National information: