Personal budgets for SEND

A personal budget is the funding that has been identified for additional services and help needed by a child or young person through social care, health or education assessment.

Personal budgets explained (with subtitles):

Personal budgets are already available in various formats in Social Care and Health.

Social Care in Children’s and Adults’ services offers personal budgets in Swindon for a range of short break services, including leisure activities, sitters, personal assistants, domiciliary care, domestic services, overnight stays and equipment.

Children’s Health services contributes to personal budgets in the form of direct payments which are set up and managed by the Children’s Disability Service. Services include personal assistants and domiciliary care to support medical needs and to arrange transport.

Also find details about health assessments.

Education personal budgets can only be available for a child or young person with an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

For further information on the assessment process, read about how long your EHCP will take.

The important aspect of a personal budget is that parents and young people know what funding is available to deliver the provision described in the EHCP.  

The broader purpose of such arrangements is to increase the participation of children, their parents, and young people in decision making in relation to special educational provision.

A personal budget can be requested by a parent or young person over the age of 16 once an EHCP has been agreed. It can only be used for provision to achieve outcomes set out in the plan. However, this does not mean that all requests will be granted.

All cases will be considered individually and it is important to note that what may be an appropriate use of funding to support a child or young person to meet their agreed outcomes, as outlined in the EHCP, may not be suitable for another child or young person with a different set of needs.

All families of children or young people will be told about the option for a personal budget when an EHC needs assessment is being carried out.

Each request is considered on its individual merits and a personal budget will be prepared in each case, unless the sum is part of a larger amount and separating out an individual payment would:

  • have an adverse impact on services provided or arranged by the local authority for other EHCP holders
  • not be an efficient use of the Local Authorities resources

  • The family can choose to take part of the personal budget as a direct payment and manage it themselves (with optional support) for certain components of the overall budget which are “cash releasable”, and where this is agreed by the head teacher/principal.
  • The family can ask an organisation or third party to manage the budget on their behalf
  • An arrangement can be made whereby the local authority, school or college holds the funds and commissions this support in the plan. (these are sometimes called notional budgets)
  • The family can choose to have the budget split and managed by all three options above

Element 1

  • Element 1 is core education funding, not available as a personal budget
  • Element 1 age weighted pupil unit (AWPU) is held within the education setting

This is basic per pupil funding which schools receive for every child whether or not they have SEN. It has been determined nationally that the Element 1 funding amounts to £4k but the exact amount is likely to be different for different age groups and key stages.

Element 2

  • Element 2 is a notional SEND budget held within the education setting

Parts of this could in very exceptional cases be available as a SEN personal budget via a direct payment if the educational setting (school, college, early years setting) agrees, but generally not available as a personal budget. 

This is an amount of money, calculated on a locally determined formula, received by each school annually as a lump sum.  It has been determined nationally that the Element 2 funding amounts to up to £6k per pupil, identified as having SEN.  

Not every child will have £6k spent on them. The amount of money spent is determined by individual schools and dependent on the level of need of individual children placed on the SEN register. It funds SEN support provision and pays for the first £6k of additional provision for children / young people in receipt of top up funding.

Element 3

  • Element 3 funding is available for personal budgets with the local authorities permission (and the educational setting if  relates to school/college/pre-school provision)
  • Element 3 provides high needs top up funding 

This is agreed for individual children or young people when the provision required to meet their needs costs more than £10k. This funding comes from the commissioning home local authority, and is determined on the basis of the assessed need. (EHC needs assessment)

View further information on element funding (PDF).

Young people or parents of children with an EHCP can request a personal budget once we have confirmed we will prepare a draft EHCP. If you already have an existing EHCP, you can request a personal budget at your child’s annual review.

Any spend must be detailed in the agreed EHCP and must be set against an identified educational outcome.

Examples include:

  • some activity or staffing to be delivered in the education setting (with permission of the Head Teacher or Principal) or elsewhere
  • something bought specifically for an individual child or young person, for example, play therapy (Individually commissioned services)
  • advice and assistance from an organisation to help manage a personal budget as a direct payment (if there is a reasonable charge by the organisation)
  • some circumstances when a personal budget may be available, if Elective Home Education is named on an EHCP. However if the local authority can meet the child or young person’s needs within a school or college setting, but the parents choose this option, a Personal SEN budget will not be available.

Anything that is not identified on the child or young person’s EHCP including:

  • health or social care provision that will not achieve identified educational outcomes on the child or young person’s EHCP
  • any provision that the setting would give any child or young person
  • a place within a school or post-16 placement

The Code of Practice states that if the local authority and parents agree that home education is the right provision for a child or young person within an EHCP, then the local authority must arrange the special educational provision set out in the plan, working with the parents (under Section 42(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014).

In this situation, a personal SEN budget may be available.

In some circumstances a personal budget may be available, if Elective Home Education is named on an EHCP. However if the local authority can meet the child or young person’s needs within a school or college setting, but the parents choose this option, a personal SEN budget will not be available.

The SEND service have co-produced a series of easy read leaflets (PDF) to help people understand the personal budgets process, who they are for and how you can access them.

These leaflets are designed to be easy to understand for people who may have difficulty reading standard leaflets.

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