Last updated: 31 May 2024

Next review: 12 April 2025

When we write your child’s EHC plan, we’ll ask if you want a personal budget. This can give you more choice and control over some of the services your child needs.

Learn about personal budgets, how they work, and what you can use them for.

What is a personal budget

A personal budget is how much it will cost to meet the extra needs of a child / young person. It can be used to buy education, health and/or care services as set out in the EHC plan.

You don’t have to have a personal budget. If you’re not sure, talk to your SEND Officer about it when you write up your plan together.

Who can have a personal budget

Young people and parents of children who have EHC plans can request a personal budget. This can be done either while it's being drafted or once it's been issued and is under review. 

Young people don't require an EHC plan to have a personal budget for health and social care. However, once they have an EHC plan, or one is being prepared, they can request separate budgets for education, social care and health care.

Young people must have an EHC plan to get a personal budget for SEND provision.

A young person with an EHC plan can ask for their own personal budget after the end of the school year in which they become 16.

Ways parents and young people can manage a personal budget

There are four ways in which a young person or parents of children with an EHC plan can manage a personal budget:

  • You can take it as a Direct Payment, receiving the cash to buy and manage services yourself, or you can nominate someone you trust.
  • The local authority or Clinical Commissioning Group can manage it for you, organising your or your child’s support.
  • A third party can manage it for you. For example, cash can be paid to a service provider, or a local organisation can manage your budget for you.
  • You can use a combination of these options. 

What you can spend a personal budget on

You should feel able to suggest ways to use your child’s budget that are personal to them and your particular family circumstances. For example:

  • Support in your own home, whether it’s equipment or help with personal and domestic activities.
  • Equipment to help communication or learning.
  • Support for your child to join in with local clubs or activities.
  • Sports or cultural activities
  • Short breaks
  • Employing personal assistants
  • Someone to go with you on a day trip or short break, for example, so you have more time for brothers and sisters.
  • Work experience or a work-based learning opportunity

Support with personal budgets and direct payments

Parents or a young person with a personal budget are given support from Citizens Advice Waltham Forest, our provider agency.

If you have any questions, please contact the Direct Payments Support Service at Citizens Advice Waltham Forest on 0203 233 0279

If a personal budget is refused

Sometimes we (the local authority) or the health authority may not agree to a personal budget. If we refuse a personal budget for SEND provision, we must tell you why. Young people and parents cannot appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal over this refusal.

How personal budgets work

Depending on the types of service you need:

  • we can pay you directly so you can buy services yourself
  • we, or a school/college, can hold the money and buy services for you (for example speech and language therapy)

another organisation can hold the money and buy services for you (for example employing a care assistant)

What you can use a personal budget for

You can use a personal budget for some education, health, and care services, including:

  • specialist services for social care such as short breaks
  • help with travel
  • continuing care

A personal budget does not include

  • funding for a school place
  • support managed by a school from its own budget, like additional learning support for individuals or groups of students

The Kids website has a page on personal budgets.

Their useful video explains what a personal budget is and how to get one.

How we work out personal budgets

We’ll estimate how much it will cost to give your child the support listed in their plan.  The personal budget must cover the cost of these services.