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Devon’s SEND Local Offer

Personal education budgets

A personal budget sits alongside ordinary parental responsibilities and does not replace what you would normally spend on your children, for example paying for food, transport and holidays. It cannot be used to pay for universal or targeted services that all children and young people can access.  However education personal budgets can help with individual support that needs to be put in place for a child or young person with SEND.

What can a personal budget be used for?

Personal education budgets in Devon are used for provision which meets outcomes identified in your EHCP, in place of existing provision, where it is possible to make different arrangements. Requests for alternative provision are considered on an individual basis, so you will need to have a detailed conversation with your SEN officer to explore the options available to you.

Explaining personal education budgets and direct payments

A personal budget is defined as the total amount of resource provided by Devon County Council (DCC) to meet the needs of a child or young person and support them in achieving good outcomes.

Direct payments are one way of delivering some or all this agreed funding in which children, young people and their families can direct their own support.

The SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Code of Practice (2014) defines a personal budget as an amount of money identified by a Council and/or Health to deliver parts of the provision set out in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

Families and/or the young person over the age of 16 will be able to request a personal budget as part of the planning process for the EHC Plan or at an annual review of the EHC Plan.

A personal budget may contain elements of Education, Social Care and Health and funding must be based on clear and agreed outcomes that are to be set out in the EHC Plan.

Personal budgets extend choice and control for some parents and young people through personalising services and resources to meet the outcomes agreed. It builds on the personalisation that is an essential part of the assessment and planning process that should be available for all children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Where a personal education budget is agreed this is allocated money for this additional/specialist provision necessary for the Council to provide to meet the child or young persons’ Special Educational Needs.

How is a personal budget managed?

Direct payments

Parents and carers with parental responsibility can receive the payment on behalf of their child and use this to pay for services assessed as necessary for Devon County Council to provide.

The Council make payments into an account authorised by the Council for the purchase of provision as detailed within your Education section of your Education, Health and Care Plan. Direct payments are the approach in which personal education budgets are provided. From the age of 16, a young person can receive and manage the funds themselves where they have the capacity to do so.

Notional personal budget

You and your child are involved in decisions about how the money is used, while the personal budget is held and managed by the responsible organisation on your behalf. This could be Devon County Council or your school. Services provided can only be those that are commissioned by the organisation.

Third-party personal budget

The budget is received and managed by a separate organisation, like an independent brokerage service or a service provider. They will arrange services on your behalf.

You could also have a combination of the arrangements above.

When can I ask for a personal education budget?

The request for a personal education budget can be made at any time during the period in which the:

  • draft EHCP is being prepared
  • EHCP is being reviewed or re-assessed

Parents and young people can request a personal education budget during an Education Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment when it is decided to issue an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or during a review of an EHCP.

Requests made outside of these times will be considered.

Request can be made by contacting your case worker.

Following the request, the case worker will review this to consider if the Council would agree that a personal budget may be provided. Services which are supplied as part of a block contract would not be offered as direct payments. This would also apply to other areas where it is difficult to separate an individual cost from on overall amount, such as special school and specialist provision costs.

Personal education budget – eligibility

A person choosing to accept a personal education budget through direct payments assumes the responsibility for organising and managing the child or young person’s Education Needs detailed within the personal education budget plan. This sits alongside ordinary parental responsibilities and does not replace the support provided by a family or what you would normally spend on your children.

A young person or parent can request personal education budget as the way in which support is provided to meet assessed needs.

A young person or parent must request and does not have to consent to receive a personal education budget; if they wish they can choose to receive services that are provided or arranged directly by Devon County Council.

Devon County Council may provide services or additional support where a young person or parent is unable to manage a personal education budget.

Devon County Council must be satisfied in making direct payments that the child or young person’s welfare will be safeguarded and promoted by the means of direct payments.

What we will consider

We will consider the Special Education Provision in Section F of EHCP

A personal education budget cannot be made if provision is:

  • in groups and/or shared with other young people
  • funded within a contract for county or area wide support
  • within a special school
  • funded or part funded within a mainstream school budget

A personal education budget may be made if provision:

  • is for this child only and
  • is funded entirely within the Element 3 allocation from High Needs Block
  • can be delivered by parent to meet agreed outcome

Response will be provided within two weeks of request of the decision to provider a personal education budget with the indicative allocated budget.

Determining the use and value of a personal education budget

Personal education budgets enable the provision of support in a manner that will help the child or young person achieve the outcomes recorded in their Education, Health and Care Plan and specifically related to the educational provision.

Personal education budgets provided by Devon County Council are not designed to meet every identified need for a child, but rather those which are identified as being necessary for the Council to provide services to meet.

The amount of support offered reflects the assessed educational need. These vary for each individual.

The value of the payments will equate at the rate that Devon County Council could provide similar services directly or through a third-party provider.

Personal education budgets provided through direct payments are made using public funds to meet the needs set out in Section F of the child or young person Education, Health and Care plan as they appear in this document. It is Devon County Council’s responsibility to ensure the funds are used in accordance with meeting assessed needs.

Parents and carers are entrusted to fulfil statutory duties through accessing these funds and agree to those obligations by accepting direct payments. These are set out in the Direct Payments agreement which a recipient is required to agree and sign prior to direct payments being provided.

Some children and young people receive support through direct payments provided by Disabled Children’s Service or Devon NHS Integrated Care Board. These payments must be used in line with the specified planning identified by the responsible service area. Devon 0-25 Team cannot give consent to vary or for flexible use for personal budgets or direct payments assessed by health or care.

What an education package out of school could look like:

  • 1 x mainstream school physical activity per week (swimming, football, netball, athletics or other)
  • 1 x mainstream musical or creative activity per week (to include, for example, drama clubs, art, or pottery)
  • Tutoring for core subjects (English, maths, science)
  • Exam fees
  • Education trips x 1 per term and must be essential to the course of study – funding only for activity – that is, not for travel and not for additional adult to attend.

What could also be considered?

  • Forest school or similar type of activity.
  • Travel costs for education not for trips (fuel only).
  • Equipment or contribution towards a laptop (up to £300 for pupils involved in on-line learning only).
  • Additional resources such as specialist books; these will be identified in Section F if needed.
  • Online subscriptions for core offer subjects only.
  • Tutoring for additional subjects if identified in Section F.
  • Further physical or creative activities if identified in Section F.

Curriculum costs for those educated out of school

If young person is Electively Home Educated (because parents have elected to not send their child to a school), then only provision in Section F will be considered for a personal education budget.

If young person is ‘Educated other than at school’ EOTAS (because the Local Authority are unable to secure a school for any provision and are making such arrangements) then some curriculum costs can be considered.

Requesting a personal education budget

Please talk to your case worker before making a decision. We welcome the opportunity to support you to understand what benefits or support you might need in accessing a personal education budget.

To request a personal budget please contact your Devon 0-25 case worker.

If, following assessment, a child or young person is deemed eligible we will talk to you about different ways of accessing support. A direct payment is one. If you choose this option, your case worker will undertake a suitability checklist and if agreed ask to sign a direct payments agreement.

The decision about whether a personal education budget is appropriate will be made by Devon County Council through our assessment processes following the parent or young person notifying the Council in writing that they are seeking a personal education budget.

If a decision is made that a personal education budget is inappropriate, the reasons for this will be clearly recorded and shared with the young person or parent or carer (or both) where this has been requested.

To complain to us about a decision for a personal education budget, please contact our Customer Relations Team.


See our Jargon buster page for definitions of words and terms used within this guidance.

Direct payments and personal education budgets privacy notice