Personal budgets

A personal budget is the amount of money the Council has assessed is necessary to spend in order to meet someone’s eligible social care needs. It enables someone to have more choice and control over purchasing and arranging the assistance or services they want. They are intended to give the individual the maximum degree of choice and control over how their eligible needs are met.

For each area of need under our ‘fair access to care’ criteria of critical or substantial needs, the Council will assess the level of someone’s need and use that to estimate how much would have been spent on services. This is what the resource allocation system (RAS). The RAS uses the costs of current services as a basis. It doesn’t suggest what services someone should use to meet their needs. It gives is an estimated value which someone can use to start planning their care and support.

During the planning process, someone may find they don’t need the whole value indicated or think that they need more. The final budget agreed by the Council may be higher or lower than the original estimate.

Personal budgets are not a benefit and are only to be used in ways agreed by the Council.

Who can have a personal budget?

Older people, people with physical disabilities, people with learning disabilities and adults over the age of 18 with mental health issues who meet the Council’s criteria for providing care (the ‘fair access to care’ criteria of people who have substantial or critical needs). See needs assessment.

How we decide the cost of your support

Your budget

  • we will tell you how much we think it will cost for the support you need
  • this is an indicative budget
  • this figure gives us a close guide of how much it should cost to pay for your support

How we will work things out

Your social worker will do an assessment to find out about:

  • your health and things in your life you need help with
  • how well you can get about
  • other people in your life like your friends and family
  • work, learning and training
  • your safety
  • the support you get from friends, family and other people or services.

We give a score or number for each of these. For example:

  • if you sometimes need help with dressing we would give this a score of 2
  • if you always need help to do this we would give a score of 3

We look at the type of support you need in different parts of your life and use these numbers to work out the cost of your care.

The way we do this is based on what we know it costs to support different people all over the country. We think about whether someone who supports you with one thing might also be giving you other support.

For example, if the person who comes to help you cook dinner also checks you are safe you will not need anyone else to do this.

We then look at whether you get some of this support from family and friends. Based on all this information we can calculate your indicative budget. Indicative budget is a close guide of how much your support can cost.

If you think your budget is too high or low

If you think the budget we have offered you is wrong, you can talk to your social worker and we might need to look at things again. Remember it is not the final budget figure it is just a close guide figure. We will give you a copy of your assessment and make sure we had all the information we needed. Please remember everyone is different and we cannot give your exact budget until we know how you want your support.

What can a personal budget be spent on?

A personal budget for adult social care is for specific things which must be agreed:

  • to enable someone to achieve outcomes and in so doing meet their care needs
  • to help people live how they want to, but not put the person or the Council at too high a risk

An outcome is the change or benefit that results from doing something.

The eligibility for social care policy shows the critical or substantial risks that arise from a need – that is, needs justify why someone should get social care funding.

Outcomes are set by the user in discussion with the Council – outcomes explain what the person wants to achieve with their personal budget and other resources, including their own skills.

The support plans set out how outcomes will be achieved and – in so doing – how needs will be met.

For example: if someone with eligible care needs has a physical disability, is isolated and the majority of their social support systems and relationships can’t be sustained (need), they may identify that they want to make new friends (outcome). They then identify how they propose to do this eg join a club; take up a hobby; get someone help them make contact with old friends they’ve lost touch with (plan).

Personal budgets are for those needs that trigger an allocation of care funding. However, they are spent on meeting outcomes and outcomes and needs don’t always fit neatly together. Some people will identify things which meet a range of needs – eg “I want to get a job one day” – and it is important that people have flexibility to plan their support. Allowing creativity is important so people can make the most of their budget to meet their care needs and to achieve a better quality of life based on what’s important to them.

What can’t a personal budget be spent on?

Personal budgets are not for buying:

  • something unlawful, like cannabis
  • services or equipment that is the responsibility of another public service to provide you with, like an operation
  • everyday things which your own money or other benefits should pay for, like food, transport or rent

Unless the Council believe it is necessary, you can’t use a personal budget to pay for support from:

  • your spouse or partner (a person who you live with as a couple)
  • a close relative who you live with
  • the spouse or partner of a close relative you live with

More information

What checks will be applied when agreeing a support plan?

The following questions will be asked of each support plan:

  1. Does the person want to spend their budget on things they cannot?
  2. Has risk been considered and if the plans do put the person at some risk, are there adequate plans in place to manage that?
  3. Are the person’s care needs met?
  4. Is there a good chance it will help the person meet their outcomes?
  5. Does the plan pose a risk to the Council in any way, eg:
  • is it a poor use of public funds (should the person be getting a better deal)?
  • does it clash with other duties the Council has by law (for example to promote equality)?

It is important to note the point above about getting a good deal. A good deal for the person is a good deal for the Council. Some services cost more than others; when someone needs those costlier services, we will probably agree a higher final budget than the estimated one. When someone spends more than they should on services, such as paying a personal assistant more than the going rate, we will reduce the proposed final budget to something more reasonable.

Where is the money from?

Personal budgets have replaced the old system of arranging social care services. There is no new money, so when calculating personal budgets, the Council is using money that pays for existing services for people’s critical and substantial needs.

Though it may change over time, to start with personal budgets will include money currently used for:

  • personal care at home
  • care provided in a supported housing setting
  • day care and similar services
  • meals on wheels
  • respite services

These are chargeable, longer term services. Though the money comes from those services, someone may spend it differently. We expect that something like 30% of people will make changes to the care they buy.

Personal budgets also exist for family carers, currently in the form of direct payments which the Council has been operating for some time.

What money does not go into a personal budget?

Money that currently pays for the following things is not included in the Personal Budget at this time:

  • advice, advocacy or support planning
  • housing related support
  • ‘reablement’ services (which only last for a few weeks)
  • Telecare
  • NHS and Health services, including continuing care
  • transport services
  • access to work
  • disabled facilities grant
Page updated on: 7 January 2020

Information and Assessment


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