Personal budget information, support and frequently asked questions
There are a range of information and support services available for assistance with personal budgets. Here we outline the support available and answer the most frequently asked questions about personal budgets.
Information and support for personal budgets
There are a range of information and support services available that can help you with personal budgets. However, they are not available everywhere. A social worker or other support worker will be able to tell you about local advocacy, information and brokerage services. If there is no local organisation that can provide information, the local authority must offer this support themselves. It is important to ask for it.
Examples of the type of support that the social worker might suggest are:
- If you need help to manage a direct payment, you or your social worker can ask a friend or relative, or someone else who has authority to act on your behalf.
- If you want to employ your own PA, the social worker can tell you about organisations that help arrange employer’s liability insurance, and with recruiting and training a PA.
- The social worker can signpost you to a broker or payroll agency, who will work out how much national insurance and tax you must deduct from your PA’s wages each month. There is usually a charge for this, but you can pay for that using the direct payment.
- If you want to buy care from an agency, the social worker can usually supply a list of agencies to choose from.
Local authorities are required to support you to manage a personal budget. Although everyone must be offered the direct payment method, the local authority must also support you if you would prefer them to arrange services instead. Having made an informed choice about care and support, you should:
- receive a regular statement showing how your personal budget has been spent, and the remaining balance
- have easy access to support services that encourage you to think about new ways to use your personal budget flexibly to get the care and support that is most suitable for you as your needs change.
If you pay for all of your own care (self-funders)
If you are assessed as needing social care, but have either income or assets (or a combination of both) that mean you have to pay for all of your own care, this doesn’t mean you have to cope alone. The local authority should still provide information and support, if needed, to help you to access and organise the services you want. They should also carry out a needs assessment to help you identify what help and support you require – make sure to ask for an assessment.
You can create your own support plan with help from family, friends or neighbours, if you want to. Social workers or care managers can also help you to plan the kind of care and support you need. However, you might want to get some support from a broker.
A broker is someone who helps you to think about, plan and organise support that is tailored to you. They can help with one or several areas of planning or organising support. This could be for a short time or a longer period, depending on what you want. If you choose, a broker can act as your ‘agent’ and hold the personal budget for you.
A broker does not have to be a paid professional. It can be anyone who you trust, such as:
- a relative, friend or neighbour
- a worker from a voluntary organisation
- someone in social services, such as a social worker or care manager
- a staff member from an advice and information organisation
- an independent professional broker
- a support or care provider.
If you want to use a professional broker, the fees should be included in the original personal budget allocation.
You might not know right away that you want a broker, or only start to need one as your dementia progresses. If so, you can always think about this when your budget is reviewed.
Frequently asked questions
What if I disagree with the amount of money in my personal budget allocation?
If you have put together a support plan and you don’t agree with the amount allocated in your personal budget, speak to your social worker or care manager and ask them to explain their decision in writing. The budget must be sufficient to meet your needs. If you feel that the amount of money is not enough to meet your needs or achieve the things you’ve identified as your outcomes, the local authority must show how they plan to do so with this amount of money. You might want to involve an advocate or support worker to help you.
If, after talking to the social worker and a manager, you still feel the decision is unfair, you can make a formal complaint. You should have been told about the complaints procedure when you had the assessment. If not, contact your social worker or local authority and ask them about it. The same process can be followed if the local authority does not agree with your support plan or what you want to spend the budget on.
What if I do not spend all the money allocated in my personal budget?
If you don’t spend all the money allocated to you, the local authority might decide that your care needs are not as great as indicated in the support plan. This means that the care package and the money to pay for it could be reduced.
What will the effect on my benefits be?
Personal budgets are not a replacement of income. They are not part of taxable income and they do not affect any other benefits.