The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014

June 28th, 2014

These regulations will come into force on 1 September 2014. They basically extend  the current pilot scheme for personal budgets to all local authorities and apply it to the new Education Health and Care Plans regime. I posted back in 2012 about the pilot scheme and these  new regulations make very few changes to the substance of that scheme.

The DfE’s guidance includes the following about personal budgets:

“Services which can be offered as a personal budget:

‘As part of their local offer, local authorities should set out a local policy for personal budgets, developed with parents and young people, which describes the services across education, health and social care that currently lend themselves to the use of personal budgets, how that funding will be made available, and includes clear and simple statements of eligibility criteria and the decision making processes that underpin them.

To achieve this, local authorities should work with their partners to:

      • identify and agree the funding streams and services for inclusion from September 2014 and develop the necessary infrastructure to support their inclusion;
      • identify and establish the information advice and support necessary at an area and individual level to help families consider options for, and to take up and manage, personal budgets;
      • develop a pathway for personal budgets within the assessment and planning process and the workforce and cultural changes necessary for a person centred approach; 
      • identify how the new joint commissioning strategies will support greater choice and control beyond September 2014, with a view to new enhanced offers from September 2015 through to September 2017 (and beyond) as the market is developed and funding streams freed up from existing contractual arrangements; and
      • maintain the core principles in the SEND Code of Practice at all times, ensuring children, young people and families are involved in the decision making processes at both an individual and strategic level.”

There are examples of case studies and lessons learnt from the pilot scheme here.

[I posted this yesterday and it started a discussion on Twitter (@Kamm11KBW) about how the current pilot scheme is working. As I commented in 2012, ” Whilst it is only a pilot scheme, it applies to a fairly large number of local authorities and those pilot authorities are required to follow the scheme for all people with SEN statements or learning difficulty assessments“. The discussion on Twitter suggested that some parents’ experience is that some local authorities have been slow to recognise that the pilot scheme gives rights to individuals, and also that some parents were not clear about the content of those rights or about how personal budgets fit into the wider SEN system.  So, here is a very brief summary of how it should be working now and how it should work in future with EHC Plans:

The LA must provide the special educational provision in the SEN statement / EHC Plan. One way in which it can do that is by providing a sufficient direct payment to the parent (or other appropriate person, under the regulations) for them to secure any of the goods and services listed in section 532A(2) of the Education Act 1996. The LA only has a power to make a direct payment if various conditions are met, as set out in the regulations. The parent / young person does not have an absolute right to a direct payment, but they do have rights (i) to receive information and advice, (ii) to have any request for a direct payment considered, (iii) to be given reasons if they are not granted a direct payment, and (iv) to a review of any refusal. A direct payment can only be used for goods/services in a school or college  if the head teacher / principal  consents. If the LA grants a direct payment, it must monitor its use, which can only be used to secure the agreed provision. There are some changes to the detail of this scheme, with the introduction of EHC Plans covering SEN from early years to age 25, but the general idea remains the same.]

Rachel Kamm, 11KBW, @Kamm11KBW

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