A personal budget is the amount of money your local council will pay towards any social care and support you need. The amount of money in your personal budget will be decided by your local council after a Care Needs and Financial Assessment to work out:
- What kind of care and support you need.
- How much it will cost.
- How much you’re able to afford yourself.
What you may not realise is this money could be paid to you (or a family member) so that you could be managing this budget yourself and choose who provides your care and how it is delivered.
If you’re a carer, you may also be entitled to receive a personal budget after having a carer’s assessment to see what might help make your life easier.
You can choose how to receive your personal budget
You can ask the council to either:
- Manage your personal budget for you.
- Pay the money to another organisation – such as a care provider.
- Pay the money directly to you or someone you choose – this is known as a “Direct Payment”.
- You can also choose a combination of these options. For example, the council could arrange some of your care but send you the rest of the money. This is often called a mixed package or “mix and match”.
The benefits of direct payments
Direct payments give you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided. For example, you could choose to hire care workers or personal assistants who:
- Are always the same people and available when you need them.
- Speak the same language as you.
- Have experience working with your care needs.
- Is a specific person that has been recommended to you
- Can help you get to shops or social events.
There are many ways you could choose to use the money. It’s your choice as long as you’re spending your personal budget on things that meet your “agreed care plan”.
Most councils will ask for evidence of how you’ve spent your money every three months.
The downsides of direct payments
You may decide direct payments are not helpful if:
- You are worried about managing money or the people you employ.
- You spend a lot of time in hospital.
- You are worried about becoming an employer – this can be dealt with by using staff from an agency.
- You would rather the council arranged your care.
- You are not confident about keeping records.
You could also consider having someone else manage your direct payments, for example a friend or family member. You wold need to set up a trust for payments that are managed by someone else.
For advise on setting up a Trust you can contact a SOLLA Accredited Independent Financial Adviser
How to apply for direct payments
You should be offered direct payments as an option after your Needs & Financial Assessments. If this was not offered or you have changed your mind, then ask your local council’s Social Services department about direct payments.
How direct payments work
If you choose direct payments, the council will send you the money in your personal budget by either:
- Paying it directly into a Bank, Post Office, Building Society or National Savings and Investments account.
- Sending you a pre-paid card.
For more information on this and how we can support you and your family please do not hesitate to contact us.