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9. Opportunities and challenges around offering direct payments

From September 2014 the following will be available as a direct payment within a personal budget, subject to the conditions relating to the direct payment being met:

  • home to school travel assistance – options of how best to arrange home to school travel assistance will be explored, and a direct payment for alternative provision may be possible, as long as it is a cost effective approach and meets the needs of the child
  • personal care
  • short breaks
  • equipment and disposables

The special educational provision specified in an EHC plan can include provision funded from the school’s budget share (or in colleges from their formula funding) and more specialist provision funded by the local authority directly to the school or college.  Schools are not expected to meet the full costs of more expensive special educational provision, this is the responsibility of the local authority where the child or young person lives.

A local authority cannot make a direct payment to fund a school place or a place in a post 16 institution.  The funding for this is separate to the personal budget. Schools are funded from central government funding via a ringfenced grant, and under legislation[1] the local authority must fund school provision.

Although SEN education provision is part of a personal budget, it is not possible to offer this element as a direct payment, and the education component would only be offered as a notional budget, i.e. no money changes hands via a direct payment to the parent or from the parents to the educational establishment.  It is not possible to separate the funding for a particular child or young person from that allocated to the setting as the funding supports provision of services to a number of children and young people.

However via the personal budget parents are informed how much money is allocated to meet the educational outcomes in the EHC plan, and work with the school or education setting to meet their child’s needs in the most appropriate way.

Personal health budgets for healthcare are not appropriate for all aspects of NHS care.  Full details of excluded services are set out in guidance provided by NHS England and include primary medical (i.e. GP services) and emergency services.

From 1 April 2015 people with long term conditions (including mental health issues and learning disabilities) who may benefit have a right to request a personal health budget.

Requests made to the CCG for a personal health budget will be considered in collaboration with the local authority. Decision making will reflect the education, health and care needs and outcomes described in the EHC plan.

Services that are supplied as part of a block contract will not normally be offered as a direct payment.


[1] The School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2014