Personal budgets



COVID-19 important information: Do you buy your own care and support with a direct payment or your own money?

If you are worried about whether you will still be able to have your arranged service, or you are experiencing disruption to your service please follow this advice:

  • Step 1 - Have a conversation with your service provider to agree a plan for if you, or they, are sick
  • Step 2 – If your service closes or does not turn up and you have not already talked to them about a back-up plan, contact your provider. If you are not able to get hold of them, please contact the Direct Payments Support Service at Citizens Advice Waltham Forest on 0203 233 0279
  • Step 3 – If you are still unable to work out an alternative and you need a different option urgently please contact the Council at 020 8496 3000

Where possible you should work with your provider to work out what to do but the Direct Payment Support Service are here to support you if you need further help.

We also recognise that those who directly employ a personal assistant (PA) may need access to personal protective equipment (PPE) if you or they don’t already have this. The Council is working on this and will issue further guidance shortly.

Direct payments and personal budgets

Direct payments and personal budgets are offered by the Council to give you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided. They are given to both people with care and support needs, and also to carers.

A personal budget or direct payment will be created after an assessment by social services. If the council decides that you need any kind of support, you will receive a personal budget and can choose a direct payment instead of letting them arrange services for you.

If you aren't able to, or don't want to manage your own finances, it's possible for another person to manage the direct payments on your behalf.

A personal budget is the total amount of money you’ll need to meet the costs of your care, including the amount we’ll pay and the amount you may need to pay towards it.

Everyone whose eligible needs are met by the council receives a personal budget as part of their care and support plan. The final amount of personal budget is confirmed through the support planning process.

In general, we charge for social care services. Some people have to pay the full amount towards their services; some make a contribution and some don’t pay anything.  It’ll depend on your individual financial circumstances and will be calculated after the completion of a financial assessment.

There are 3 main ways a personal budget can be used:

  • as a Direct Payment, which for maximum convenience we can make available to you via a pre-payment card, although other payment options are also available
  • as a managed account held by the council, with support provided in line with the person’s wishes
  • as a managed account held by a third party with support provided in line with the person's wishes

How it's calculated Click to get info

The Resource Allocation System (RAS) generates an amount which is based upon the assessment and the estimated cost of meeting your assessed needs.

The assessment identifies your care and support needs and your eligible needs. The RAS translates your eligible assessed needs into points or units.

The scale of points or units awarded depends on the eligibility criteria and is converted into an indicative or estimated budget. It also takes into account the total available council resources to meet care and support needs.

The RAS cannot calculate an accurate indicative budget for complex cases that involve high levels of need. In these cases, it will calculate an indicative or estimated budget up to a maximum threshold that reflects the type and complexity of need.

Cases that reach or exceed this threshold will be treated as an exception and require more careful consideration, to ensure that your needs are met appropriately.

Spending your money Click to get info

The personal budget can only be spent on what's agreed in your care and support plan, to meet your eligible social care needs and outcomes.

As well as using your personal budget to meet some of your outcomes, you can start thinking about what your local networks are and whether there are other services that are free and available to you in your own community.

It's very important that you have a plan for if something doesn’t turn out the way you want it. It’s helpful to save some of your budget to cover the emergencies, such as arranging care at a short notice.

Direct Payments Click to get info

You may want to have your funding allocated to you as Direct Payments (in other words, as a cash personal budget) that you either manage yourself or you ask a family member or someone else to manage for you. If you have someone else acting on your behalf we’ll need to agree to this. 

Direct Payments can offer you a lot of flexibility in how you can use your personal budget. You can choose who you want to care for you and when. You can even employ support workers, or start a contract with an agency.  

If you’re thinking about taking a Direct Payment we can help you to understand how it operates and some of the things that you might need to think about. This will include what you need to do if you want to employ people to help you.

Don’t worry, it won’t affect your current income from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) or other allowances if you receive any.

See further information and how to apply for the direct payment scheme (pdf 111KB).

Managed payments Click to get info

We recognise that not all individuals will have the desire or capacity to manage a personal budget or to plan for and meet their own support needs. If you don’t want to have a Direct Payment you can ask your representative to arrange the services on your behalf.

We’ll provide support for individuals who choose to take all or part of their personal budget as a managed service. In such cases, a personal budget will be allocated on the basis of an agreed support plan and resources and services will be purchased in line with this. We’ll allow individuals to choose a combination of Direct Payments and managed services.

The precise arrangements for this will be set out in the care or support plan and any associated personal budget agreement will be subject to review as requested or required.

Representatives Click to get info

A representative is a person appointed to manage a personal budget if an individual lacks capacity. A representative may be:

  • someone who holds an enduring or lasting power of attorney
  • a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection; or
  • a family member or close friend who agrees to take on the responsibility to act in a person's best interests. This can include someone with parental responsibility for a person aged 16 or over.

Direct Payments Support is a service run by Citizens Advice Waltham Forest that is commissioned by the Council to provide people with confidential, impartial, free, high quality information and advice and support to people who receive a Direct Payment for their care and support.

To find out more visit the Citizens Advice Waltham Forest for Direct Payment.