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Personal budgets in North Somerset

We are working together towards a new way of supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities. Personal Budgets are a relatively new way to receive help and support as an alternative, or more often a complement to traditional services. They can give children, young people and their parents more choice and control over the support and services they receive. 

As part of setting out what support and provision may be available for a child or young person, we will make it clear what funding may be available as a personal budget.  This is the money which will be used to fund the agreed support from health, education and social care.

The right to request a Personal Budget has been extended by the Children and Families Act 2014 and parents of children with special educational needs or disabilities can now request a Personal Budget. Young people over 18 years of age can request a personal budget in their own right.

How is North Somerset working towards providing Personal Budgets?

North Somerset recognises this is the beginning of the journey towards responding more creatively to what children and their families want. We are committed to increasing the flexibility of the personal budget ‘offer’ and to be open to both suggestions and challenges as we go forward.

At the outset, we will need to consider each request carefully to ensure we are making wise decisions regarding public finances, and that your child continues to receive the appropriate services. We are also operating some pilot schemes which will help us ensure that you have all the support you need to use a personal budget to it's potential.

As we finalise our policy on Personal Budgets, we will publish the outcomes here, as part of the Local Offer.

When can I request a personal budget?

You can discuss a personal budget with us at any time, but it may be helpful to discuss this with the professionals involved in your support at the time your Education, Health and Care Assessment is taking place, or at the annual review. Personal budgets normally require an assessment by the Disabled Children's Team.

Usually you will discuss this with the person helping them with their plan. That person will be able to find out what the total cost of their support services is, how much of it might possibly be available as a direct payment, and to explain any reasons why they may not be able to have a personal budget,

You can, after a discussion with us, decide to keep all of the services which are currently working well for your child and your family, and not ask for a personal budget at all. Or it might be agreed that some of the resources are released to purchase service directly. Where money is received to buy support on a child’s behalf this is called a ‘direct payment’.

If a Personal Budget is agreed for more than one part of the plan then these can be put together into a single budget.  For example, if a budget is agreed from health, education and social care, these amounts can be put together into one personal budget. 

How can I receive a personal budget?

 There are three ways in which a Personal Budget can be provided to a family:

  • as a Direct Payment - the family is given an agree sum directly and uses the it to purchase the support that is agreed in their EHC plan.
  • as an organisational arrangement – this means that the money remains with Health or with the Council, but the family are told how much money is available and identify how the money is to be spent.
  • an agreed third party (sometimes called a Broker) holds the personal budget and will manage it on behalf of the family.

If a personal budget is agreed, we will discuss the options with you.

Why might I not be able to receive a direct payment?

We can only agree to a direct payment of a Personal Budget if they are satisfied that:

  • the Direct Payment will be used in an appropriate way in the best interests of the child
  • making the Direct Payment will not adversely impact upon other services provided to other children who have an EHC Plan - perhaps by making services we purchase for a larger group unaffordable for example.
  • it is an efficient use of the our resources.
  • where the support or service is to be used in a school, the Head Teacher of the school must agree. If they do not the Local Authority cannot make the payment for that element.

It might be, particularly in the early days of this new way of working,  that money often cannot be released from a services without causing an overall detriment to that particular service and the other children who are benefitting. We will explain this in detail if it affects you, and we will also explain how you can find other ways of influencing the services you receive and having a say in how they are provided.

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