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Personal Budget Criteria Explained - 2022-2023

Why does Activities Unlimited (AU) offer Personal Budgets to support the cost of Short Breaks?

All Local Authorities have a duty to support families of children with disabilities by providing them opportunities to have breaks from their caring responsibilities. We recognise that every family’s needs are different, and so we aim to give families as much control as we can by awarding Personal Budgets to eligible families so they can plan the short breaks that work for them.

For some families, this may involve their child attending clubs or activities, while for others, it might involve the purchase of play equipment or specialist toys that their child can play with at home. In both cases the aim is to enable the parent carer to have a break, do something for themselves or spend time with other people.

Why have we changed the way we manage Short Break Personal Budgets?

In 2019, we began a review of our Service, including a review of our Personal Budgets.  We did this because:

  • Families had told us they found our online self-assessment difficult to complete
  • We wanted to capture families' needs accurately, reducing the need for appeals
  • We needed to better capture data on sensory needs and social, emotional, and mental health needs
  • Analysis using other data available to us (e.g., education support levels, benefits) showed that the level of Award currently being received was not always consistent with other indicators
  • We wanted to explore whether the current Awards were flexible enough to capture levels of need.

This review was coproduced with parent carers, practitioners, and other stakeholders, and led to a service redesign. Read more about the review and redesign work we did here.

Who is eligible for a Short Breaks Personal Budget?

Any Parent Carer of a child aged 0-18 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who lives in Suffolk can apply for an Activities Unlimited Short Breaks Personal Budget. Not all families who apply for a Personal Budget are eligible to receive one; budgets are reserved for those children, young people and families with the most significant needs.

Parent Carers apply online via our application portal, which asks a range of questions about their and their child’s needs. The information provided is grouped into nine indicator areas:

  • Parent/Carer Self Assessed Need
  • Child/Young Person Self Assessed Need
  • Education setting / type
  • Level of Education High Needs Funding
  • Parent / Carer DLA/PIP
  • Child / Young Person DLA/PIP
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health Services Involvement
  • Health Services Involvement
  • Social Care Services Involvement

We use a range of indicators to try and build as full a picture of a family’s needs as possible whilst keeping the application process as simple for families to complete as we can.

The self- assessment of the child’s needs asks questions about the following areas:-

  • Sensory
  • Physical Health
  • Mobility
  • Communication
  • Self-care
  • Social and Emotional Health and Wellbeing
  • Learning Disabilities
  • The type of education support in place
  • Services the child is accessing plus how often.
  • The child’s level of disability benefit.

The parent carer self-assessment is based on the needs of the main carer completing the form. It considers the following: -

  • The parent carer’s own health needs.
  • If they have support from family and friends,
  • If they care for others
  • The impact of their caring role in accessing their community, being able to work, quality of sleep and spending time with others.

Once the application is submitted, the system grades each of these indicators between 1-5 depending on the severity of need in this area, and these then generates an overall score. This score determines the eligibility for a Personal Budget and the level of budget to be awarded.

School Age and Post 16 - Personal Budget Award Allocation Table.

Pre-School age - Personal Budget Award Allocation Table.

Activities Unlimited also provide funding to a range of providers around the county to support them in running inclusive, fun short break activities and clubs. These activities are open to all families of children with SEND, regardless of whether or not they receive a Personal Budget. Find out more about the providers and activities we fund.

Apply for a Short Breaks Personal Budget here.

Young people over the age of 18 can still access our Short Break activities, however their parent/carer would need to contact the Adult Social Care team for an assessment for an adult personal budget. More information about help for adults can be found here.