A Personal Budget (not to be confused with a personal health budget, although the two can be combined) is an amount of money allocated to you by the council to meet the costs of your assessed social care needs.
This initiative was created to give people more information on and control over how their needs were being met, as part of a process called Self-Directed Support, which was itself part of the wider approach of Personalisation.
How is the amount calculated?
The social care needs of the individual are evaluated by their local council, and the costs of meeting these various needs are added together to reach a preliminary ‘indicative budget’. This indicative budget is then discussed with the individual, and a ‘support plan’ will be developed, outlining where this money will be spent. Once agreed, this amount becomes the individual’s personal budget.
How can I receive it?
The recipient is encouraged to take as much or as little control over their budget as they wish to.
Some people prefer to leave the practical organisation of care to the council. They are kept informed throughout the process and have the right to request change in certain aspects of their care, and the council is responsible for using the Budget to arrange and pay for any assessed care needs. Alternatively, a ‘user-controlled trust’ can be set up, within which the personal budget is managed by a third party.
Some people prefer to take more personal control over their budget, and arrange their care themselves. This is made possible through the provision of a direct payment, which is the direct transfer of the personal budget to the individual via a cash payment. The individual then takes responsibility for the organisation and payment of meeting their assessed care needs.
A combination of the above two levels of control is also possible, within which individuals would organise some of their care themselves with funding from a direct payment, and leave the remainder to be arranged by the council. Brokerage services to provide independent support throughout this process are also widely available, with the overall aim being to help the individual achieve the level of control which works best for them.
What may it be used for?
A personal budget may not be used to pay for anything which is not directly meeting your eligible social care needs.
It may not be used for things prohibited by the local council. These generally include alcohol, tobacco, gambling, debt repayment, and anything which is illegal.
Personal budgets also may not be used to address health needs, which are the responsibility of the NHS.
Do I need to pay anything towards it?
Local councils usually require a contribution from the individual towards their Personal Budget, the amount of which will depend on their income, savings, and financial responsibilities. This will be discussed during the development of the original indicative budget and support plan.
Individual Budgets are similar to Personal Budgets in many ways in that they include your social care and support needs. They differ due to the fact that they also include other streams of funding, such as Independent Living Funds.