Personal budget 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 available for personal budgets
Although are support service available to help with personal budgets, they are not available everywhere. A social worker or other support worker will be able to offer information about local advocacy, information and advice services. If the social worker indicates that there is no local organisation to offer support, then they must offer support. It is important to ask for it.
Examples of the type of support that the social worker might suggest are:
- If someone needs help to manage their direct payments, the social worker can ask a friend or relative of the person, or someone else who has authority to act on their behalf.
- If the person wants to employ their own PA, the social worker can provide information about organisations that help to arrange employer's liability insurance, and help with recruiting a PA.
- The social worker can signpost to a broker or payroll agency, who will work out how much national insurance and tax must be paid to a PA each month. There is usually a charge for this service, but the person can pay for that using part of the direct payment.
- If someone wants to buy care from an agency, the social worker can supply a list of agencies to choose from.
Local authorities are required to support people in managing personal budgets. Although everyone must be offered the direct payment method, they must also be supported if they would prefer services arranged by the local authority.
Having made an informed choice about care and support, the person should:
- receive a regular statement showing how their personal budget has been spent, and the remaining balance
- have easy access to support services that encourage them to think about new ways to use the personal budget flexibly to get the care and support that is most suitable for their needs.
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. If you feel that the amount of money is not enough to achieve the outcomes identified, the local authority must show how they plan to achieve them with this amount of money. You might want to involve an advocate or support worker to help you.
If, after negotiating with the social worker and a manager, you still feel the decision is unfair, you can make a formal complaint. Contact your social worker or local authority and ask them about their complaints process.
The same process can be followed if the local authority does not agree with your support plan or what you want to spend the personal budget on.
What if I do not spend all the money allocated in my personal budget?
It is important that the money allocated is spent. If it is not used, the local authority might decide that the care needs are not as great as are indicated in the support plan. This means the care package and the money to pay for it could be reduced.
What if I want to keep an existing service?
If you already receive services (for example an agency home care worker visiting to help with personal care) that were set up before the personal budgets system was in place, you may prefer to keep this arrangement. In this case, the local authority can manage the personal budget for you. However, you should be provided with all of the information and support required to make the decision, allowing you to make a positive choice. There should always be support available to help you to manage a direct payment, if you would
How do I ensure that I keep safe?
It is important to be aware of any potential for abuse or harm that may occur when the arrangements are made. Although the local authority must protect people who may be in vulnerable circumstances, risk is an accepted part of life. The goal should be to manage risks in ways that improve your quality of life, while offering you protection from harm if you are vulnerable. This should be achieved through regular reviews of the services being used and how the personal budget is being spent.
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.
Do people who pay for all of their own care (self-funders) get support?
A person may be assessed as eligible for help, but have income and/or capital assets that mean they are not eligible for state-funded care. This does not mean that they have to cope alone. Even if they are paying for part or all of their own care to meet their assessed needs, the local authority should still provide information and support, if needed, to help to access and organise the services they choose.