Personal budgets are part of a new way of managing care and support called personalisation, which is designed to make sure the help you receive suits you as an individual.
Personal budgets offer you more flexibility and control, but can also mean extra work for you.
Personalisation aims to give better advice and information, health and social care, prevention, and community support, to everyone regardless of their wealth or eligibility for services.
A personal budget is an agreed amount of council money that you can use to arrange and pay for your care and support, following an assessment of your needs. You can receive it as a direct (cash) payment, through a managed account, or a mixture of the two.
If you’re managing your personal budget yourself as a direct payment, you can only spend the money on services or equipment that meet your assessed needs, but you can choose the ones that best suit you and your lifestyle. The agreed amount must be adequate to meet your eligible needs.
Say, for example, you have a favourite social group, or club that you’d prefer to go to other than the day centre the council provides, you can choose to use your personal budget to get there and pay your subs, instead of going to the day centre.
Or, if you usually have meals on wheels and you’d like a change once a week, you can use money from your personal budget to go to a café or to meet friends for lunch.
If you need a carer, you may choose to employ one yourself if it is suitable for you to do so, but bear in mind that this will mean more responsibility for you, for example, you will need to file tax records with HM Revenue and Customs.
New pension rules mean that those who employ their own carers using either their own money or money from their Direct Payment may now be legally obliged to contribute towards a pension for them. You may need to take this into account if you decide to hire a carer or carers directly and pay them more than £10,000 per year. If you hire a carer through an agency, or if the local authority arranges your care for you, then you won’t need to pay money into a pension. If you have a carer and they earn less than £10,000 a year, this also won’t apply. For more information, contact The Pensions Regulator on 0845 600 1011.
If you don’t wish to manage your personal budget yourself, the council can do it for you based on your needs and wishes. Alternatively, you can set up a user-controlled trust, which means your money is managed for you by someone such as a friend, family member, solicitor or service provider.
You should always receive advice and support from the council to help you make an informed decision. There are a range of brokerage services being set up by voluntary organisations to help people to plan how to use their personal budget, which can be used alongside support from the council.
Download the Direct payments and personal budgets in adult social care factsheet (PDF 361 KB)
Download the factsheet Paying for care and support at home (PDF 231 KB)
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Organisation offering information and advice to carers
Government department which publishes a guide about how to receive and manage direct payments from the council
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