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Personal Budgets - Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions provide basic information about personal budgets for members of the public and are of also of relevance to agencies and partners in relation to the provision of adult social care services in Dudley. (Updated April 2015)

Who can have a personal budget?

You must be aged 18 or over and have care and support needs, which meet the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) criteria. The council provides services to people with critical or substantial needs only. You must have critical or substantial needs in order to receive a personal budget.

How do I get a personal budget?

An assessment of your needs will be carried out. Your carer is entitled to a carer’s assessment. The carer’s assessment can be done at the same time as your assessment or at a different time.

Once the social care assessment has taken place and we have established that you have eligible needs for care and support, an assessment and support plan will be produced with you. We will then calculate how much money this is likely to cost, this amount will be indicative only at this stage. Once the final assessment and support plan has been agreed the final amount of personal budget will be confirmed.

A financial assessment of your circumstances will then take place to establish if you have enough money to pay for the agreed care and support yourself. We follow government guidelines stated in The Care Act when doing a financial assessment and our policy which applies to our charges for social care and support. This assessment will help us decide if you do qualify for a personal budget.

The final amount of the personal budget will only be confirmed when the support plan has been agreed.

How do I pay for support using my personal budget?

If you do qualify for a personal budget, you must use this money to pay to meet your care and support needs, as stated in your assessment and support plan. You can however choose the best ways to meet these needs and achieve the outcomes agreed in your plan. Once you have received notification of your personal budget allocation, you will need to decide how to manage it.

There are different ways to pay for support using your personal budget. You can choose one or more of the ways below.

  • To take all of your personal budget as a direct payment – you can use this to employ individuals, purchase support through an agency, or for other activities you choose yourself.
  • To ask the council or a provider (or other third party) to manage the personal budget and pay directly for the support you have chosen. This is known as a ‘managed personal budget’. This would still mean that you have choice and control over how the money is spent.
  • To do a combination of both of these things. Take part of your personal budget as a direct payment and ask the council or a provider (or other third party) to manage the rest directly on your behalf.

You do not therefore have to manage the personal budget yourself, but you must be informed about the sum of money which is allocated to you and the cost of each component of your support plan.

If you have a managed personal budget, you will receive regular statements showing how much of the personal budget has been used.

Whichever arrangement you choose must be signed off by the council in your support plan.

How do I arrange support using a personal budget?

You will need a support plan to show how you will spend your personal budget to achieve your goals. You can write the support plan yourself or with your family and friends, or the council can help you to put together your support plan. We may do this through one of our staff or through an organisation contracted with the council who can provide a ‘broker’ to help you to arrange your support.

Having a personal budget means that you can choose how you want to spend the money to arrange your care and support. You can choose to mix and match your support. For example you could use a personal budget to employ your own personal assistant and to pay for a place in a council service such as P.U.L.S.E.(People Using Local Services every day – day opportunities in the community for people with a Learning Disability )

The Dudley Community Information Directory has been developed by the council, which can help you to find out more about community activities, which you might wish to include in your support plan. Alternatively you can call into your local library and access the directory from there.

The council will sign off the support plan before the final amount of the personal budget is confirmed.

What if I want to have a personal budget and still use the services I already receive?

You can choose to take a personal budget and use it to pay for the services you already receive – this would be a managed personal budget. The important thing is that you know how much money you have to spend and what you would like to do with the money.

What is the difference between an “individual budget” and a “personal budget”?

In Dudley, we are calling the money that you can get from the council a personal budget. An individual budget is money that can be made from other income streams including:

  • Dudley Council adult social care personal budget
  • Independent Living Fund
  • Access to Work
  • Disabled Facilities Grant
  • Other funding sources

How often will the payment be paid to me?

Your personal budget will be paid as a direct payment in four-weekly instalments in arrears; this means there are 13 payments in each financial year. The payment will be made directly to your or your agreed ‘suitable person’s bank account every 28 days.

Can a personal budget be given as a ‘one off’ payment?

You can request a ‘one off payment’ from your personal budget for an item in your support plan such as very specialist equipment. This will have to be affordable as part of your personal budget and be in your support plan stating how it will help you achieve your goals.

You will only be given a lump sum of money or a one off payment if it is agreed this is the best option through your support plan

Are personal budgets the same as direct payments?

No, direct payments are just one way in which you can have your personal budget. If you choose to take all or part of your personal budget as a direct payment you will be given an amount of money to arrange and purchase your own care and support services. You will need a bank account into which the council will pay your money. You will be responsible for managing your money, purchasing the services you receive and keeping records.

A direct payment is the legal process to pay money out to you. It ensures that the council and you as the personal budget holder are responsible for the money and that it is spent correctly as agreed in the support plan to meet your assessed care needs.

What happens if the person receiving the personal budget does not have capacity?

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 for England and Wales provides a framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves. It makes it clear who can take decisions in which situation, and how they should go about this. It also allows people to plan ahead for a time when they may lack capacity.

Third parties may manage a direct payment for people, who lack capacity through a ‘suitable person’ who has been appointed by the council.

The council cannot treat a carer or relative as automatically entitled to manage the direct payment/personal budget of a person lacking capacity.

Can I employ family and friends?

As a general rule you can only employ family and friends from your direct payment if they don’t live in the same house as you.

Will I be accountable for the use of the money?

Yes, if you have chosen to manage your personal budget yourself. If you have asked someone to manage it for you then they will be accountable for how it is used.

Will Dudley Council want to know what I’m doing with my money?

Whichever way you receive your personal budget you will have to provide some information to the council about how you spend your money. Your social worker will tell you exactly what you need to show to us when you plan is agreed. You will need:

  • A separate bank account for your personal budget received as a direct payment
  • Information on how you have spent your money
  • Bank statements
  • Receipts for all items
  • Wage slips if you employ your own staff
  • You may need to provide additional information if your social worker thinks you need more support managing your budget

The council will ask how you are spending your budget at a review at least once a year.

As a personal budget holder you have certain responsibilities to those who you employ. You will be charged if you do not use the services you have arranged, subject to the following periods of notice to cancel services provided by the council:

  • Homecare – 24 hours
  • Day care – 2 weeks
  • Respite – 2 weeks

You may have different contracted timescales with any personal assistants you employ (A4e will advise in this case) or any external agencies you decide to use.

Any agreed spend through your support plan will be left in your account (from one financial year to the next). The council will check any amount of personal budget left in your account, which is in excess of 8 weeks money. If the excess is agreed then it can remain. If there is no agreed plan for this money, (e.g. you haven’t needed it as perhaps your circumstances have changed) then the budget will be reviewed and you may have a re assessment of your need to give you a different amount of money.

Is the system open to abuse?

The council has carefully considered the risks of abuse:-

Case 1: the client will be at risk of abuse due to having money given to them and who they will employ

A social worker from the council will work closely with you to ensure that all risks are considered and you receive advice on the correct procedures for employing personal assistants. This will be done at the time of approving the support plan by the client, circle of support and social worker.

Case 2: the client will spend their own money on things that they shouldn’t and that are not in their support plan

The personal budget cannot be spent on anything, which would be considered illegal or an inappropriate use of public money. The council will monitor spending of personal budgets to ensure that this does not happen. If the account is not operating properly, the council will be able to move the money to a managed account.

Self-directed support often raises concerns about safeguarding, risk and the management of both the personal budgets and the overall safety of the vulnerable person. The aim is to promote choice and control and to support the right of adults to live independent lives and to take risks they choose. This has to be weighed against the risk of significant harm or abuse.

Will I have to make any contributions towards my personal budget?

You may do. When the assessment of your needs has been completed, a financial assessment will be carried out to see if you have to make any contribution towards your social care costs.

I am working - will this affect my funding?

No. Your personal budget will be the same whether you are working or not. However, your earnings may affect the contribution you are asked to make towards the cost of your support.

Can I top-up my personal budget?

Yes, if you want to. You can add other resources you receive, such as welfare benefits and Individual Living Fund (ILF) to your support plan. You will need to clearly identify them in your plan if you do this.

How do we deal with the Independent Living fund?

ILF which is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions provides financial support to disabled people and promotes independent living. ILF has seen a greater demand for its services, and an increase in the cost of care packages for the people it supports. From May 2010 ILF has changed refer please go to www.dwp.gov.uk/ilf/ or telephone 0845 601 8815.

Will my benefits be affected?

No. Any funding you receive as part of your personal budget is for your social care support and is not treated as a benefit or as income.

What if my needs change?

The council will still review your care and support at least once a year. If your needs change significantly in the meantime, you need to tell us and request a review. You will be reassessed and, if appropriate, your personal budget will be adjusted to meet your change in need.

What if using a personal budget does not work out?

If you are not happy about how your support plan is working, you can talk to the service provider directly or to your social worker or we can put you in touch with an independent advocate. We can make changes to the support plan

You can stop using your personal budget at any time. The council will try to arrange alternative care services to meet your needs if a personal budget is not suitable.

Will staff I employ to provide care need be registered and checked with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)?

If there are any children under 16 in the household you must have a CRB check.

Where there are vulnerable adults involved then it is strongly recommended that a CRB check is undertaken (this cost will need to be taken into account within your personal budget expenditure).

More information?

For more information about meeting your social care needs please contact Access to Adult Social Care team on 0300 555 0055 or email access to Adult Social Care.

Contact Details

Email:
Access to Adult Social Care

Tel:
0300 555 0055

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