They have been introduced by the government to enable you to have more choice about the support you need as an individual to improve the quality of your life and live as independently as possible.
What a personal budget means for you
- getting the right kind of support, when you need it, and
- getting the help you need quickly and in a way that fits into your lifestyle.
You can choose the support you need and pay for it using money from your personal budget, which is allocated to you by the council to buy the help you need.
How it's different to traditional ways of receiving services
Previously, if you were eligible to receive social care services from the council, your social worker would have arranged for you to receive the support you need (called a 'care package'). For example, this may have included a visit to a day centre, transport to the centre, home care and meals-on-wheels.
By offering you a personal budget, you now have much more choice and control over how you live your life. You may, for example, want to attend college, go swimming or go to the cinema instead of going to a day centre. You can still choose the traditional methods of support, but the important thing is that now with a personal budget the choice is yours, as long as it is used to support your social care needs.
How it works
- We will carry out an assessment of your needs to decide whether or not you are eligible to receive social care services. We currently use the government's 'Fair Access to Care Services' guidelines to help us work out your eligibility.
- If your needs are assessed as either 'critical' or 'substantial' we will offer you a personal budget (although you don't have to have one if you don't want to). The assessment will help us to determine how much your budget will be, based on your assessed needs. If you are not eligible for social care services, we will refer you to other sources of support, such as Starting Point.
- Your social worker will tell you how much your personal budget is going to be, based on the information you have given us in your assessment.
Wigan Council, like most other councils, operates a charging policy. This is used to work out the amount (if any) you have to contribute towards the support you receive. This will all depend on your income and savings.
- The next step is to write your care support plan. You can either:
- ask your social worker to do it on your behalf, or
- ask your social worker, a friend, relative or someone else to help you to produce it.
- Your care support plan will give details of:
- what's important to you
- what you want to change or achieve in your life (your outcomes)
- how you will be supported
- how you will use your personal budget
- how your suppot will be managed
- how you will stay in control of your life
- any contingency plans you have in place, in case something unexpected happens.
- Your social worker will then ask a social care team manager to approve it.
What you can spend the money on
Many people will still spend their budget on traditional methods of social care, like attending a day centre or receiving support at home to help them get up, get washed and dressed. Lots of people have personal assistants to help them to do the things they want to do, such as going to the gym, walking the dog or visiting the shops.
What you can't spend the money on
Your budget must not be used in any way which will harm your health, safety or wellbeing, or purposely used for an illegal act. It also can't be used to buy goods or services which would normally be provided by another statutory organisation, such as health or housing (without full agreement from Wigan Council).
Personal budgets can only be used to support you with your care needs (not used for something you would normally buy yourself) and agreed by the council.
How you will receive your personal budget
- You can ask your social worker to arrange services on your behalf using the money allocated to you from your personal budget. This means that we will manage the budget for you.
- You can have the cash to arrange your own services (this will then be known as a 'direct payment') and will be paid into a nominated bank account every four weeks.
- You can ask your social worker to arrange some of your services and have a direct payment to arrange some of your own services. For example, you may enjoy going to a day centre but want to employ a personal assistant to help you to get up later in the morning, or go to be later at night.
What happens next
- If you already receive social care services from the council, there is no need to do anything - your your social worker will offer you a personal budget (if you don't already have one).
- If you don't currently receive social care services from the council, contact the Central Duty Team (or the Children in Need Duty Team - see below) to arrange for an assessment of your needs. Depending on the result of that assessment, you may be eligible for social care and a personal budget.