EHC plans and personal budgets

A personal budget is the amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision. 

If you have a child with a special educational need or disability (SEND), your child may be entitled to a personal budget through their Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.  

A personal budget can be requested once the council agrees to issue an EHC plan following an EHC needs assessment. It can also be requested during an EHC plan annual review. A young person may also request a personal budget.

For example, your child may receive a special educational need personal budget to:

  • allow you to arrange for your own speech and language therapy as detailed in section F of your child's EHC plan
  • purchase a specialist communication aid

The personal budget set out in your child's EHC plan can be provided for all or some of the special education, health and care provision. However, there are different criteria for each element.

Education personal budget

Section F of your child's EHC plan details the special educational need provision. Normally this funding is provided from element three known as the high needs block that the Local Authority receives. This will fund the special educational provision to meet your child’s needs in their education setting. There is not a separate pot of money for personal budgets. 

You can discuss the possibility of a personal budget with your child’s SEND officer who will make sure that we consider your request.

You cannot use a personal education budget to pay for:

  • any support that is not identified in the EHC plan
  • health and social care provision that will not achieve the educational outcomes in the EHC plan
  • any provision that an education setting would normally provide as part of their offer. For example, they may commission a speech and language therapist to support a number of children and the reduction in costs would not cover the cost of a separate therapist (economy of scales)
  • a school or post 16 placement

How we make decisions

When you request a personal budget for education, we will prepare a suggested cost for the provision you are requesting and share this with you. The Local Authority's Resource Panel will consider your request. They will take into account the views of the education setting where the provision will be delivered. 

If a personal budget is agreed, it will be detailed in section J of your EHC plan. Where this is to support educational provision, this section will also detail the outcomes to be met by the personal budget.

If your personal budget is not agreed or only partly agreed, we will write to you to explain why. You can ask for the decision to be reviewed. For the review, the decision will be looked at by a service lead who was not involved in making the original decision.

Health personal 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 Integrated Care Board (ICB). Personal budgets are currently available through the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNNSSG ICB). They are for those who meet Children's Continuing Care criteria.

Personal health budgets give people with complex health conditions and disabilities more choice and control over the money spent on meeting their needs. A personalised care and support plan will identify what the budget can be used for.

To request a personal health budget, discuss this with the health practitioner that your child sees on a regular basis. They will know how to start the process if required.

You can find out more about who can have a personal health budget on the local Integrated Care Board's website.

Social care budget

You can ask your social worker or family support worker to help you with your request.

A social care assessment will be carried out by a social worker. They will assess your child’s needs and whether a personal budget can meet those needs through direct payments. If your child is eligible, the social care provision will be recorded in parts H1 and H2 of your child's EHC plan. It will also be recorded in section J.

When your child turns 18, they may need to contribute towards their care. 

How personal budgets will be provided

A notional budget

You will be informed how much money is available in the budget. You will be involved in discussions about how to identify the different ways to spend that money to meet the outcomes. The council or health commissioner will arrange services on your behalf. No money is given to you or your child directly.

Direct payment to you or your child

You may decide to take all or some of your child’s personal budget in the form of a direct payment. Direct payments are a cash payment from the personal budget which can be made:

  • directly to you
  • directly to your child if they are aged 16 to 25
  • to an adult who is legally responsible for your child up to the age of 25

The money will be given to purchase and manage services. This is usually done using a direct payment card.

Direct payment to a third party

Payments can be given to a third party who helps you to buy the services chosen. This could be a broker, provider or nominee on behalf of you or your child. A charity or other organisation is given the money and helps you spend it. The third-party organisation buys the services required and takes responsibility for all financial arrangements.

Combination budget

A personal budget can also be given using a combination of the above. This is called a combination budget. 

Further information