Frequently asked questions
What is a personal budget?
This is simply the sum of money set aside by Shropshire Council to meet a person’s identified and agreed needs. The amount of money is worked out using a resource allocation system (RAS) that looks at the person’s needs and circumstances. People can choose to take their personal budget as a cash payment and manage it themselves (see question 13), or the council can manage their money on their behalf, or they choose a third party they wish their money to be paid to.
Who can have a personal budget?
Anyone who has had an assessment of need and is eligible for social care services will have a personal budget.
What are direct payments?
A direct payment simply means giving someone an amount of money to arrange and purchase their care and support services themselves. People may choose to take part, all or none of their personal budget as a direct payment – whatever is right for them. If a person chooses to have a direct payment to employ their own staff they can get help to do this from Penderels Trust (an organisation in Shropshire that offers this service).
Will self-directed support cost a lot more?
There is no new money available to provide social care for local people through the self-directed support approach. However, the approach may give us better value for the same money. All the national evaluation to date has reported that better outcomes for people can be achieved and risk managed positively within similar funding levels to the traditional approach.
Where does the money come from?
The majority of funding for social care support is received from central government grant and council tax. The council also receives specific grants and income from charging for services. This will not be affected by the introduction of self-directed support.
Is self-directed support about saving money?
No. Self-directed support has been shown to provide greater choice and control for people needing support, greater links with their local communities and better outcomes leading to higher levels of satisfaction. People currently using personal budgets are tending to use the money more efficiently and/or find they do not require the full budget to meet their needs - a similar outcome to traditional direct payments.
Is self-directed support just direct payments with a different name?
No. Direct payments are just one way in which individuals can use their personal budget. However, the way in which the level of funding is worked out is very different. Before self-directed support, direct payments were based on a cash equivalent of the cost of services identified through the assessment and care management process. Under self-directed support, the amount of funding available is based on a resource allocation system (RAS) where funding is based upon level of need and not the value of services to be provided.
Can people decide for themselves whether they have a personal budget?
No. Once self-directed support is implemented, everyone will have a personal budget as this will be part of our mainstreamed process. If individuals feel they do not want to arrange their own support, they can ask their care manager/social worker to do this on their behalf. In other words, people can choose not to have control over how the money is used, but it is still a personal budget.
How will service users know how much money they will have to spend?
They will be asked to complete a self-assessment questionnaire. This is a short form with a list of questions about the help that they think they need. This information, with the professional assessment, is used to work out how much money needs to be available to them. They will receive a letter to tell them this.
How accountable will individuals be for the use of the money?
The support plan will state how the person intends to use their personal budget, and will have been agreed by the council. If they are receiving any of the money directly, they will be asked to sign an agreement that says that they will use the money on those things agreed in their support plan.
If they have taken all or part of their personal budget as a direct payment, people will be accountable for how that money has been spent. If they have opted for the council or other agreed third party to manage all or part of their personal budget on their behalf, the person or organisation managing the budget will be accountable for how that money has been spent.
What can the money be spent on?
The money must be spent on things that:
- are legal
- directly link to an outcome in their life that it has been agreed the money is for, and
- cannot be funded in other ways.
It could be used to buy support from an agency or to employ someone’s help. Or, it could be used for such things as paying someone to do their ironing or to tidy their garden. It could also be used to buy equipment, for example, things that help the person be more independent in their home, etc.
How will the money be paid?
Direct payments – money given to service users to enable them to arrange and be in control of the services chosen to meet their needs - will be made into a bank account separate to the service user’s current account. It can be paid monthly or quarterly, whichever is the best way for them to manage it. Payments to third parties will be paid to that organisation and ring-fenced for the person’s support.
Will service users be asked to contribute any funding?
They may be. A means-tested financial assessment will determine the level of their contribution, and form part of the calculation of their personal budget.
Will a personal budget affect an individual's benefits?
No. Benefits aren't affected by a personal budget because any funding given is for social care and support and is not treated as a benefit or income.
If an individual works, will this affect their funding under self-directed support?
The amount of funding identified by the resource allocation system (RAS) may be less if they work, and their financially assessed contribution to the cost of their support may be affected by their earnings.
How do charges work with self-directed support?
Service users will have a financial assessment that will determine how much they are expected to contribute towards the cost of their care. This will be taken into account to calculate a net budget.
What is the resource allocation system (RAS)?
This is the system by which money is allocated from available Adult Social Care funding, according to set criteria, to contribute to a person’s personal budget based on a series of questions individuals are asked to complete in a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ).
Will people just keep any direct payments money they don’t spend or take the money and spend it all down the pub?
No. Individuals have to spend their funding on meeting the social care needs identified in their assessments. Support plans will show how the needs of individuals will be met and outcomes achieved. The support plan has to be agreed by Shropshire Council. A contingency to allow flexibility in support and to meet fluctuating needs is normally calculated, but any surplus above an agreed amount not set aside for specific purposes has to be returned to the council. If a person does not spend the money on appropriate services then the council can stop direct payments and arrange direct services for them. In cases where funding has very clearly been misspent, the council can take action to recover this directly from the individual.
Won’t you have to spend a lot of time checking that people getting direct payments have spent the money in the right way?
We already have systems in place to monitor how people are spending their direct payments. With the introduction of self-directed support, we will introduce a monitoring system that is manageable for the council and manageable for people with a direct payment.
What if the personal budget isn’t enough?
The resource allocation system (RAS) produces an indicative allocation of what the personal budget will be. This only becomes definite once the individual’s support plan has been developed, and achievement of their identified outcomes agreed. If the amount of money allocated is not going to be enough, Shropshire Council must either allocate more funds, or work actively to show how a support plan can be developed that achieves the agreed outcomes within the budget allocated.
What if there is significant change to the service user’s needs?
Another self-assessment questionnaire, plus any other relevant information that needs considering, should be completed. If deemed appropriate by Shropshire Council, the personal budget will be adjusted to meet the change in need.
How often will there be a review?
Everyone who receives a personal budget will have a regular review to check how things are going and if any changes need to be made. A first review will take place after twelve weeks. Then individuals will have a review at least once a year or more frequently if agreed between them and their care manager/social worker. Anyone with a personal budget whose needs change can request a review at any time.
What if people don’t spend all of their money in the first year?
It depends on why the money hasn’t been spent. If they did not need all the money to get the support their plan said they would need then their next year’s payment will be adjusted to take this into account. If a planned purchase hasn’t happened and the money is still needed then that money could be carried over providing it is spent in an agreed time.