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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Personal budgets

A personal budget is an amount of money that is identified to flexibly to support a child or young person with their education, health and/or care needs as identified in their care and support plan. It can include funds from us, for education and social care support, and/or the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for health.

You can receive a personal budget for care needs, education needs or health needs or a mixture of all of them.

Personal budgets cannot be used to pay for universal services that all children and young people can access but can help with individual support that needs to be put in place for a child or young person with SEND.

Personal budgets are designed to help families and young people have more control and greater choice over how their needs are met.

Taking a personal budget

Having a personal budget does not necessarily mean that you will receive that amount of money directly but does mean that you or your child has a say on how it is spent.

You can receive a personal budget in different ways:

  • The Local Authority, school or college can look after the personal budget for you – this is called an organisational arrangement or a notional budget.
  • You can manage all or part of the personal budget yourself and receive the money directly – this is called a direct payment.
  • You can opt to have someone else manage the personal budget for you – this is called a third-party arrangement.
  • You can also have a combination of all or some of these arrangements.

Who can have a personal budget?

We’ve put together some frequently asked questions about who can have a personal budget:

Do you have to have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

You do not need to have an EHC plan to get personal budgets for social and health care, but you must have an EHCP to get a personal budget for special educational provision.

When you have an EHC plan, or one is being prepared, you can request budgets for special educational support as well. You can ask for a personal budget either during the drafting of an EHC plan or when the plan has been issued.

What happens when I turn 16?

A young person with an EHC plan can ask for their own personal budget after the end of the school year in which they become 16. A right to request a personal budget is not the same as the right to have a personal budget, but if we can’t offer you a personal budget to meet your needs or your child’s needs then we must explain why.

What do I do if I’m not sure if my child has one?

If you have been made aware of the resources available to meet your child’s needs and have had a say in planning how they can best be used, then those resources are your child’s personal budget.

What happens if my request for a personal budget was turned down?

Sometimes we, or the health authority, may not agree to a personal budget. If we refuse a personal budget for special educational provision we must tell you why.

You cannot appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal over this refusal.

How do I get a personal budget?

For special educational needs – If you get an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (which can lead to an EHCP), you can tell the SEN 0-25 Team, who is involved with that process, that you would also like a personal budget for education.

For health or social care needs – You can contact Children and Family Health Devon, Single Point of Access (SPA) to request a personal budget to support health or social care needs. You can request services via the Single Point of Access by emailing them at or calling them on 0330 0245 321.

Alternatively, for a personal health budget, you can speak to someone who already provides your healthcare, such as a physiotherapist or nurse.

The video below gives a good overview of personal budgets:

Direct payments

Direct payments are one of the possible forms that a personal budget can take. It is an amount that is paid directly to you to help meet your needs or those of your child as specified in their care and support plan. Some families choose to take their personal budget as a combination of a direct payment and another form of personal budget in order to access a wider variety of support.

If you think your child would benefit from a particular type of support, but it is not possible for this support to be funded by direct payments, you can discuss during the planning process whether there are other ways that this support could be written into your child’s plan

How should direct payments be used?

They can be used for any spending that meets outcomes defined in the agreed support plan as long as it is lawful, effective and affordable.

  • Lawful means that spending identified as part of the social care support plan or EHC plan is legitimate and does not break any national guidance on how funds can be used.
  • Effective means that the proposals in the support plan relate to the agreed outcomes which will meet the assessed eligible needs.
  • Affordable means that the total planned spend does not exceed the amount of the personal budget. The budget can be used for a wide range of activities that support the outcomes in the child’s support plan as approved by us.

Details of what direct payments can be used for vary and depend on whether it is for education, health, social care or a combination of two or more of these areas.

Social care direct payments

It is important that you only use a direct payment to meet your outcomes as outlined in your care and support plan.

We understand that distinctions between what is and isn’t permitted are not always straightforward, and any issues should be to be discussed at the support planning stage and clearly agreed and recorded to ensure clarity.

You can find out more about what direct payments for social care can be spent on in our Social Care Direct Payments Policy.

Health direct payments

These should be used for services described in your person-centred support plan. The services identified in your plan should help you to achieve the health and wellbeing outcomes agreed between you (or your family and/or carers) and your healthcare professional.

The Devon Card

If you choose to take a direct payment, it will be paid to you using the Devon Card.

The Devon Card is a safe and efficient way for people who manage their own support using direct payments to pay for services.

It is a pre-loaded card that is similar to a bank debit card. However, it does not offer credit or an overdraft. Money must be loaded onto the card before you can spend it, and you can only spend what has been loaded onto the card.

You don’t need to set up a bank account for your direct payments and you won’t need to send in statements.

The following cardholder guide contains everything you need to know about using the card and will give you a better idea of how useful it can be.

What can it be used for?

Your Devon Card must only be used to make purchases to meet the needs and outcomes identified in your support plan and agreed by the person undertaking you or your child’s assessment.

  • If your provider accepts Visa you can pay them straight from your Devon Card either in person, over the phone or on the internet.
  • Your Devon Card also has online banking and telephone banking facilities so you will be able to make payments to providers even if they do not accept Visa cards.

What if I have questions about direct payments?

If you have questions about the direct payments that you receive then you should contact the team on 01392 385276, Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm.

Any new referrals to the service or referrals for direct payments must go through the Single Point of Access process. You can contact the Single Point of Access at or call 0330 0245 321.

If you have any specific questions about your existing account or Devon card then you should contact the Direct Payments Coordinator for your area. Contact details below.

East and Mid Devon, Clare Key: 

Teignbridge, West Devon and South Hams, Rebecca Kelly:

North Devon, Debbie Setherton: 

Exeter, David Johnson:

If you are not happy that the advice you’ve been given is correct, then you should follow the appeals process set out in the relevant appeals policy.

Different types of personal budget

Personal budgets for education

A personal budget for education will only include the funds needed to buy more specialist or individual support than your school or college is expected to provide. It doesn’t cover the funding for the school or college placement itself or any support that we, or the school, should be providing according to the SEND local offer.

A school or college can agree to contribute some of its own funding to a child’s personal budget, but they do not have to. If a personal budget for education is turned down, we have to tell you why.

What can personal budgets for education be used for?

Personal budgets for education can only be used for provision set out in section F of an EHC plan. If they happen on school grounds, then the school must grant permission for them.

What can I do if I have questions about personal budgets for education?

  • You can contact the 0-25 Team for further details or clarification about what can be included
  • You can also contact the Devon Information and Advice Service (DIAS) for impartial advice. Call 01392 383080 or email

Personal health budgets

A personal health budget means that children, young people and their parents or carers will have greater choice, flexibility and control over the healthcare they receive. It can be used for services described in your person-centred support plan, which should help you to achieve the health and wellbeing outcomes agreed between you (or your family and/or carers) and your healthcare professional.

Who can have one?

  • If you are under 18 and meet children’s continuing healthcare criteria, you can request a personal health budget for appropriate elements of your healthcare. Instead of the CCG purchasing a service for you, funding will be made directly available through your parents.
  • If you are over 18 and you have a disability or complex medical problem, you might qualify for free NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) which you could receive as a personal health budget; the eligibility criteria are different from those for children’s continuing health care, so you will need a different assessment.

How do I get one?

If you think you may be eligible for a personal health budget, you can discuss this with someone who already provides your healthcare, such as a nurse or physiotherapist.

You can contact the Devon CCGs for more information:

More information on personal health budgets

You can find more information on the NHS website or on your local CCG’s website:

Useful links