You’ll be given a personal budget to spend if your local council decides you’re eligible for help with any social care and support you need. You can request an assessment from the council to establish your needs. The money in your personal budget can be paid to you, to help you make more decisions about how it’s spent. This is known as a direct payment.
What is a personal budget?
Your personal budget is the amount of money your local council will pay towards any social care and support you need.
The amount of money in your personal budget is decided by your local council after a needs assessment has taken place to work out:
- what kind of care and support you need
- how much it will cost
- how much you’re able to afford yourself
Choosing how to receive your personal budget
You can ask the council to either:
- pay the money directly to us;
- pay the money directly to you or someone you choose – this is known as a direct payment
If you would like your money paid directly to us
We can speak to your local council and arrange the payments on your behalf.
The benefits of direct payments
Direct payments give you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided.
For example, you could choose to:
- arrange for the same care providers to be available when you need them
- have a provider that has experience working extensively with your type of care needs
- have a provider that has been recommended to you
- have a provider that can help you get to shops or social events
There are many ways you could choose to use the money. It’s your choice as long as you’re spending your personal budget on things that meet your agreed care plan.
Most councils will ask for evidence of how you’ve spent your money every 3 months (our detailed invoices can be used as evidence).
How to apply for direct payments
You should be offered direct payments as an option after your needs assessment.
You can also ask your local council’s social services department about direct payments.
We can help you arrange Direct Payments with your local council
How direct payments work
If you choose direct payments, the council will send you the money in your personal budget by either:
- paying it directly into a bank, Post Office, building society, or National Savings and Investments account
- sending you a pre-paid card
You can then choose how you spend the money on your own care and support, as long as it matches the care plan you’ve agreed with the council.
Signing a direct payment agreement
The council might ask you to sign a document called a direct payment agreement. This says:
- how the council want you to record your spending – for example, keeping receipts
If you spend direct payments on something that isn’t agreed in your care plan, the council could take the money back or end the direct payments.
If you’re struggling to manage your money
Ask your local council for advice or call the Money Advice Service on 0800 138 7777.
If you want someone else to receive the direct payment
You could speak to the council and agree for the money to be sent to someone who will spend it for you. For example:
- a friend or family member
- someone else who speaks up for you (an advocate)
You may need to write down how they will spend the money and which decisions they can make for you. This is known as a decision-making agreement.
Employing your own carer or personal assistant
If you decide to hire a carer or personal assistant yourself, it’s important to know the responsibilities you’ll have as an employer. You will be treated as an employer if you hire a personal assistant directly.
Although support from the council should be available, you may need to arrange:
- background checks or references
- National Insurance
- pension contributions
Read more about employing someone to work in your home on GOV.UK.
Disability Rights UK also have more information on getting a personal assistant
If you don’t want the hassle of becoming an employer, we can help
If you don’t want to become an employer
You could choose to hire a care provider like Midian Care instead. This removes the legal obligations of being an employer and could save you money in the longer term as you would avoid the costs of managing pensions, tax, and other record-keeping being an employer would require.
How to complain about personal budgets
It’s worth speaking to your council’s social services before making an official complaint to see if they can help.
You still have the right to complain if you:
- have been told you’re not eligible to receive money towards your care and support
- don’t agree with the amount of money in your personal budget
You could either:
- speak to your social worker about being re-assessed
- call your local council social services and request a complaints form
Your council should also have a formal complaints procedure on its website.
If you’re not happy with the council’s response
Contact your Local Government Ombudsman. They investigate all adult social care complaints.