What is a personal budget?
A personal budget is the amount of money your local council or trust has allocated towards your care and support needs. If you or the person you care for have been assessed as eligible for social care, you will be allocated a personal budget based on your care plan (or care and support plan for carers). It can give you more choice and control over your support.
Who can have a personal budget?
If you think you or the person you care for needs extra care and support, ask your local council for a needs assessment. This will look at your care needs to see if you qualify for support. If you do, you’ll have a financial assessment to see if you should pay towards any of your care. If the council will be paying for some or all of your care, you will receive a personal budget.
Can carers receive personal budgets?
If you’re a carer, start by having a carer’s assessment. If you qualify for help and the council will pay for some or all of your support, you are entitled to a personal budget. You can use it to pay for anything that has been agreed in your carers’ support plan that will help you in your caring role. You can’t use it to buy services for the person you care for. Make sure they’ve had a needs assessment to work out what help they qualify for.
Choosing how to receive your personal budget
There are different ways to receive your personal budget. Your local council can:
- manage your personal budget for you, and spend it as agreed in your care plan (or care and support plan for carers)
- pay the money in your personal budget directly to you as direct payments so you can arrange and buy your own care services
- pay the money to another organisation, such as a care provider. They will manage and spend it as agreed in your care plan. This is known as an Individual Service Fund (ISF).
You could also choose a combination of these options.
Are personal budgets available across the UK?
In England and Scotland, local councils must offer personal budgets to people who have been assessed as needing care services and who qualify for financial support. In Scotland, the system is called self-directed support. Find out more from Self Directed Support Scotland
In Wales, only direct payments are available.
In Northern Ireland, direct payments are available but personal budgets are still being rolled out. They aren’t yet available in all areas.
What can you spend one on?
If you or the person you care for has a personal budget, you can use it for any of the assessed needs in your care plan or care and support plan for carers. If the council or another organisation is managing your budget, they will arrange services on your behalf. If you receive direct payments, you can spend them on the care and support that best suits you.
If you’re a carer, you can use your personal budget for any of the needs noted in your care and support plan. It’s to help you keep caring and to maintain your health and wellbeing. For example, you could spend your direct payments on gym membership, taxi fares, counselling, driving lessons or adult education.
Any respite care provided to the person you care for can’t come out of your personal budget. It must be paid for by the person you care for, as they will be the one receiving the care.
Read our page on direct payments to find out more about how you can spend and manage them.