When a child or young person is issued with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHC Plan) the local authority is legally required to ensure that the Special Educational Provision (SEP) in Section F of the EHC Plan, for example a 1:1 Learning Support Assistant or Speech and Language Therapy interventions, is delivered. Usually this is achieved by the local authority funding the child or young person’s nursery, school or college so that they can pay for the SEP. However, it is possible for a parent/carer or the young person themselves, to request that some or all of the SEP is instead made by way of Direct Payments (DP). DP as the name suggests, is money paid directly to parents/carers or young pepole, which they can then use to pay for and manage the SEP themselves. In order to do this, there must first be a Personal Budget (PB) in place. A PB is a notional amount of money to cover the SEP in section F of an EHC Plan, and DPs are just one of the ways in which they can be funded.
You can request a PB during the EHC Needs Assessment process, at the draft EHC Plan stage or during any subsequent review or reassessment of an existing EHC Plan. When requesting a PB you should also identify which, if any, aspects of the SEP you would like to receive DP for. Parents/carers often ask for DP so that they can retain more control over who delivers the SEP, for example if they have a particular person or organisation in mind that they want to provide an intervention or therapy. The local authority must consider a request for a PB and/or DP but they do not have to agree to it, and there is no right of appeal against a refusal; although you can ask them to review their decision. If the SEP funded by DP is to be provided in a school or other educational setting, then their agreement must also be obtained.
You can find detailed guidance on Personal Budgets and Direct Payments in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015 (SENDCOP). SEND Advocacy can advise on whether Direct Payments might be appropriate for your circumstances, and if so we can support you to make the best possible case for receiving them. If you need someone in your corner to help you secure the education your child deserves, contact us today.