What is a personal budget?
A personal budget is a chargeable service that sets out the total amount of money needed to pay for your care and support, the amount the local authority pays towards meeting those needs, and the contribution you must make (once this has been calculated following a financial assessment). Once agreed:
- you can ask the council to spend your personal budget and organise your support for you
- you can ask them to give your personal budget money to you in the form of a cash direct payment
What is a direct payment?
If you're eligible for support from the council then a direct payment* allows you to spend the money allocated for that support in a way that best suits you, and to stay as independent as possible.
Direct payments aim to put people in control of the support they need so that they can live the life they choose.
If you are eligible for a direct payment, you can apply to have a prepaid card. This works just like a bank card and can be used to pay your care agency, personal assistant, or for other services mentioned in your care plan. You can also have additional cards issued to family members or friends, so they can make payments on your behalf.
Visit Direct Payments to find specific information on:
*Please note that starting from January and February 2018 Essex County Council will introduce a new single Direct Payment agreement for both Adult Social Care and Children and Families Services. An example of the agreement is attached. Please do not worry these changes do not affect the amount of money you receive for the Direct Payment or how your Direct Payment is paid.
Other information and advice
If you need help with managing your personal health budget, ecdp (formerly Essex Coalition of Disabled People) provide a wide range of helpful support and information. For example, you might be able to make use of ecdp's payroll services, as well as their DBS service (which used to be called CRB). ecdp also have a useful leaflet called The Journey to Direct Payments which shows you the steps you need to take to get the support you need. This leaflet is also available in easy-read format.
The HomeCareDirect website aims to help people to take control over their care at home, whether through a personal budget, personal health budget, direct payment or for people who pay for their care themselves.
Age UK offer information and advice on personal budgets.
The Independent Age website provides a leaflet called Using a Direct Payment or a Personal Budget (guide no 23).
MIND provide a guide to personal budgets, with information about what you can do to get support.
Scope provides information on direct payments and personal budgets.
The Mental Health Foundation has produced several videos on the benefits of self-directed support, including for people with dementia.
SENSE provides advice and suggestions on how personal budgets can benefit people with dual sensory impairments (being blind and deaf).
And Disability Rights UK provides a fact-sheet on personal budgets.