Mental health and personal budgets


If you or a loved one is affected by a mental illness, such as dementia, you may be eligible to receive a personal budget, which will pay for your care and support.

To acquire a personal budget, your care and financial needs have to be assessed by the local council who will then give you a personal budget to make sure that your needs are met. Depending on your mental capacity, your personal budget can be managed by the council, a third-party, yourself or a family member/friend.

Navigating the intricacies of a personal budget, particularly if you have a mental illness can be made more straightforward with the assistance of an expert elderly care solicitor. Our elderly care solicitors specialising in dementia and Alzheimer’s have supported vulnerable patients and their families in London through all legal processes that aim to put the best possible arrangements in place. Our services include but are not limited to:

  • Will writing
  • Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Court of Protection
  • Advance Decision (Living Will)
  • Personal budget representation if it is being rejected

What is a personal budget?

A personal budget is an agreed amount of money that is allocated to a person by their local council to cover the costs of care and support, meeting their assessed needs. It is possible for both people with mental illnesses and their carers to receive personal budgets.

This decision to give you a personal budget is made by the following:

  • A care needs assessment, which involves a social care professional visiting you to see how you are handling daily tasks, any physical difficulties you are experiencing and your skills and abilities.
  • A financial needs assessment, also known as a means test, follows a care needs assessment where your local council will enquire about your finances and income to decide how much financial support you require.

How is your personal budget determined?

Once you have met the criteria to obtain a personal budget, you can find out how much the local council is going to allocate you.

The amount of money in your personal budget is based on:

  • A care needs assessment
  • A financial needs assessment (a means test)
  • What it will cost to meet your eligible needs

When an amount has been estimated, a personalised care plan will be drafted and a support plan will then be implemented. This support plan outlines how you will manage your personal budget and overcome any problems, such as your carer falling ill. A support plan can be created either by you or with the support from other friends and family. Your plan needs to be approved by the local authority, and usually, a social worker will confirm that your plan is sound.

If your needs change, your personal budget can be adjusted to cover the costs for your new situation. The local authority will review your plan at least every year to ensure that it is meeting your needs.

How can you use your personal budget?

You can decide how you want your personal budget to be used.

The three main options include:

  • Your local council manages your account – taking responsibility for arranging support and care for you based on what is outlined in your plan.
  • A third party, such as a care provider, manages your account – arranging payment for the services you are receiving and potentially charging you for their services.
  • You can manage a direct payment – cash payments are paid directly into a specific bank account, and you can decide how to spend this money. If you have a mental illness, direct payments are still available to you, but someone will manage them on your behalf. This person may have power of attorney or deputyship – meaning a relative or friend that you have elected to make decisions for you when you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself.

How personal budgets can help people living with mental illnesses

Research conducted by Reform, a British think tank, has found that personal budgets in mental health can help people achieve better outcomes, and studies have shown an increase in community participation and social engagement. If you or a loved one is affected by mental illnesses, particularly dementia, a personal budget can give you control over your care and allow you to maintain your independence for longer. With the help of a personal budget, you can remain supported and re-establish a meaningful life for yourself, despite your mental condition.

Romain Coleman can help if your personal budget is rejected

Our experienced solicitors can advise and assist you with acquiring and retaining a personal budget to ensure a better quality of life for you or your loved one.

In the event that your personal budget is being rejected and the council has failed to provide adequate explanations, please get in touch immediately as we will review your case and discuss the next steps with you. Also, if your personal budget has been reduced without any reassessment, talk to us too.

With a team of dedicated and supportive elderly care solicitors specialising in dementia and Alzheimer’s, Romain Coleman is here to help you secure your future, eliminating any financial worries along the way.

To get in contact with one of our mental health solicitors, call 0208 520 4555 or enquire via our online form.

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This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.