Personal budgets

What is a personal budget?

A personal budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver parts of the provision set out in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

Families can request a personal budget as part of the planning process (in drawing up an EHC Plan or at Annual Review).

Local authorities are under a duty to prepare a personal budget when requested.

A personal budget can be delivered in one of four ways:

Notional budget
In this circumstance the individual/family does not receive the money directly but is allocated a budget and participates fully in the planning and decision making around how the money is spent.

Actual budget held by a third party
A different organisation holds the money and helps the individual/family decide how best to meet their EHC outcomes.

Direct payments
Money is transferred directly into the individual’s bank account, which has been opened for the purpose, to meet the identified outcomes.


Any combination of the above.

A personal budget is used to purchase the services and support required by a disabled child to meet their specific requirements and to live a more independent life.

Historically, a disabled child has been assessed by the local authority, and from this, an offer has been made as to which service or services the family can access to meet their child’s requirements. This process has not been very transparent, has relied on professionals making decisions for families about which services they think will best meet a child’s requirements and has used a restrictive and sometimes inadequate assessment process.

A personal budget provides a family with a lot more choice and control over the services and support that will meet their child’s individual requirements in the best way. Once a specific support requirement is identified, the family is supported to assess their ‘real wealth’, meaning the resources available to the child and family, such as family support, capacities and resilience, that can help to meet their support requirements. It is acknowledged that although monetary wealth is vitally important, money alone will not develop a support plan for a child.

To find out more about how personal budgets can be used to transform the lives of disabled children, young people and their families, please download the FREE Making it Personal resources here: or watch a video about it here.

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