Receiving and using personal budgets

Once you have been assessed as being eligible for council funding to meet your care and support needs (regardless of the contribution you may be asked to pay), the council is legally obliged to offer and allocate personal budgets for you to enable you to meet the agreed outcomes of your support plan. As part of the care and support planning process, it is now mandatory upon the local authority according to the Care Act 2014 (that came into force in 2015) to inform you of your personal budgets, that is the amount of money that the council has worked out it will cost to arrange the necessary care and support for you.

You may decide to take all or some of your personal budget in the form of direct payments. Personal budgets give you the choice to choose what support you wish to have. It is the total amount you receive for your care and support. You will be given an annual personal budget allocation following the assessment. You spend your direct payments budget to meet your agreed outcomes stated in your care planning. You cannot spend your direct payments to pay for day-to-day living costs such as utility bills and food or for items such as cigarettes.

The personal budget is designed to give you choice, control and independence to enable you to lead the life you want to lead and do things the way you would like. Personal budgets allow you to have full control over how your care and support will be best met. Personal budgets grant you the flexibility in choosing the service providers and how you want them to assist you.

Different ways to receive a personal budget

People’s needs do vary and your person-centred assessment will reflect the areas you need support with. You need to think carefully as to how you want your care and support arranged in order to achieve your outcomes. The local authority has a duty to provide relevant information and advice relating to care and support. Since you decide how you want to be supported and what works best for you to suit your care and support needs, you can receive your personal budget in a number of ways as stated below:

  • You opt for direct payments – your local council pays some or all of your entire personal budget funding into your bank account or a separate bank account held by a person (e.g. third agent, support broker) nominated by you. You utilize direct payments to buy your own support.
  • An account managed by the council (as indirect payments) – the council will manage your budget and will commission services on your behalf.
  • As an Individual Service Fund (ISF) – the local authority pays an organization that provides support services and will follow your instructions in getting the services you need. The organization will be answerable to you. You will have a say about how and services are provided to you.

You may wish to receive your personal budget by using a mixture of the above ways.

Using Personal Budgets – Purchasing care and support services from service providers

You can buy from providers various types of support services with your personal budget funding to meet your care and support needs outlined in your support plan. You can utilize your budget as below:

  • To recruit staff as personal assistants (PA’s) or buy care and support services from care agencies to help you to meet your eligible and assessed needs in your own home for instance with your personal care, social need, pursuing indoor/outdoor activities or be part of the local community
  • Short stays in a care home or respite care (applicable for carers who are given a break from their caring role)
  • Accessing a wide range of local community social and education activities and mainstream services such as being involved in sports, horse riding, day trips, going to clubs and leisure or learning centres and education sessions
  • To purchase particular aids and equipment (not provided by NHS) that you require and are stated in your support plan as an outcome that needs to be met to promote your independence. You cannot use direct payments to buy equipment already provided by NHS
  • To pay towards transport costs to undertake a variety of outdoor activities (or attending day centres) identified in your care and support plan
  • Attending day services and going to day centres – you can arrange for a short trial to visit different day centres to find out about their services and whether you would like to still attend these centres

Where can I get more help?

This factsheet is a basic overview of personal budgets. For further help and information please contact our Advice Line.

We have a number of independent living factsheets, including Factsheet F32 - pooling personal budgets and Factsheet F64 - managing your personal budget

All our factsheets are free to download on our website at

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