Managing your support
Organising the money
Once your plan is agreed, social services will arrange for the money to be paid, either to you or to whomever you said in your plan will manage the money for you. See the section above on 'How you will spend your personal budget' for more information on this.
Organising the support
The person who receives the money is then responsible for organising the help needed. This may be buying equipment, employing a carer or personal assistant, arranging trips or any other help and assistance you need.
Social Services will put you (or the person receiving the money on your behalf) in touch with local voluntary and community organisations who can advise on anything related to organising the support. For example, advice on employment issues, insurance or taxes or more general support if needed.
Will you have to make a contribution?
You may be asked to make a contribution towards your budget depending on your savings and income. You will be asked to complete a form explaining how much money you have saved and what your income is from earnings, benefits, pensions and investments (sometimes called a 'means test').
Brokerage services are independent organisations that help you to find and organise the support you need. A brokerage service may also help you manage your individual budget, find carers, personal assistants and support groups, and help you with your duties as an employer such as employment contracts and tax and National Insurance contributions. There is normally a charge for brokerage services but this should be built into your individual budget.
The availability and type of brokerage services varies across the UK. Your social services department or social worker will be able to provide you with details of local services.
Monitoring and review
You can ask for your self-directed support package to be reviewed at any time. A review should be carried out at least once a year and social services will normally contact you to arrange this. If you have not heard from them or you would like a review sooner, you can contact social services yourself to request this.
The review should cover how the help is working, consider any difficulties that have arisen and any extra help or changes you would like. You can also use the review to think about and plan for future needs.
Can my carer still receive support?
Yes. A carer who provides assistance to you is entitled to a carer's assessment. Some local authorities include the carer's assessment as part of the self-assessment form. You would complete the form together and return it to social services. However, some carers may want a separate assessment, often due to pressure they feel from caring. If so, your carer is entitled to his/her own assessment and should ask social services for an assessment which may reveal that he/she is also entitled to a personal budget.
What to do if you disagree with a decision
If you are unhappy with the decisions that social services make at any stage of the process you have a right to challenge the decision. For example, you might be unhappy that they:
- did not allow you to fill in the self-assessment form because they did not believe you will be eligible for help; or
- had too much influence and you did not have enough choice; or
- will not sign off your support plan even though you feel it meets the outcomes you want and addresses all necessary points; or
- are not giving you enough money to get the support you need.
If you are unhappy with a decision, you can ask social services to look at their decision again informally to see if they will change their mind. If this does not change the decision or you want to challenge the decision more formally you can make a complaint.
Complaining to social services is now just a one-stage process and is geared towards resolving the problem rather than just responding to it. Please contact your local authority for details of their complaints procedure.
Your local Headway Group or Branch and your Headway regional coordinator may be able to support you to contest a decision. Please contact the Headway helpline to discuss this.