EHCP Home Education Direct Payments

Legal references on this page apply to England.

Introduction to Personal Budgets and Direct Payments for Special Educational Provision

I have more information about personal budgets and direct payments here Interim spreadsheet: Personal Budgets from What Do They Know FOIs 2016 Link

Direct Payments Legislation

"Provision for which a local authority is not required to prepare a personal budget [ADDED AT LAST MINUTE BY The Special Educational Needs (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 No. 2096
4A. (1) For the purposes of section 49(2), the particular provision to be secured by an amount identified in a personal budget does not include provision that is specified, or proposed to be specified, in an EHC plan (the "specified provision")—
(a)which the local authority secures, or proposes to secure, under arrangements within the meaning of paragraph (2); and
(b)where the conditions in paragraph (3) apply.
(2) "Arrangements" for the purposes of this regulation means any arrangements between the local authority and a third party under which the local authority pays an aggregate sum for special educational provision which includes the specified provision.
(3) The conditions are that—
(a)the aggregate sum paid by the local authority under the arrangements includes a notional amount for the specified provision; and
(b)the notional amount cannot be disaggregated from the aggregate sum because the disaggregation—
(i)would have an adverse impact on other services provided or arranged by the local authority for children or young people with an EHC plan; or
(ii)would not be an efficient use of the local authority's resources.".


6. (1) A local authority may only make direct payments where a request has been made for direct payments to be made and the authority is satisfied that—
(a) the recipient will use them to secure the agreed provision in an appropriate way;
(b) where the recipient is the child’s parent or a nominee, that person will act in the best interests of the child or the young person when securing the proposed agreed provision;
(c) the direct payments will not have an adverse impact on other services which the local authority provides or arranges for children and young people with an EHC plan which the authority maintains; and
(d) securing the proposed agreed provision by direct payments is an efficient use of the authority’s resources.

A Personal Budget in relation to an Education Health and Care Plan is an amount of money which is available to secure the provision specified in the EHCP. Read about the new SEN system here

If the local authority "agrees to" a Personal Budget or "offers" a Personal Budget, this does NOT mean that money will be made available to the family.

Some people may think that a "Personal Budget" equals money for the family to spend, but this is not true. The only time money is released to the family is via what is called "Direct Payments."

Sometimes the Personal Budget is "notional". This is where local authority will "hold" the Personal Budget and will simply tell the family the amount of money involved.

At other times, the Personal Budget might be what is called "third party" where the local authority commissions a service from a provider, and this third party "holds" the Personal Budget.

The ONLY way for a Personal Budget to translate into Direct Payments for the family to spend on EHCP provision is where the local authority is "satisfied" firstly that the DPs will not have an adverse impact on other services, AND secondly that using DPs is an efficient use of the LA's resources.

SEN lawyer Steve Broach explains more here

One Parent's Story

I have been asking for case studies of Personal Budgets to pay for special needs provision in home education and have recently received the following story. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more or if you have your own story to share.

"My home educated child has special educational needs (SEN). She has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), a Personal Budget (PB) and Direct Payments (DPs). We now receive £3,500 per term, for 12 hours of support at home by tutors of our choice, plus 8 hours per week of pre-approved extracurricular funding in areas of my child's special interest.

All tutors and people involved with the child must have DBS checks. All spending has to be recorded with invoices for the annual review. Since having this support in place we have seen a significant improvement in my child's mental state and academic progress. I am sharing my story to show Local Authorities (LAs) how a Personal Budget for home education can help children, when school is not the best option for the child.

In September 2014 my then 8 year old was deregistered from school. There was already had a diagnosis of autism and a history of school refusal and anxiety, but my child didn't have a statement of special needs. I applied for an EHCP after we started home educating. The new SEN system had just become law. At the outset, my intention was that my child would have the option of a specialist school or flexi school but I was aware of the reality that school might not be possible and we might need to carry on with home education.

Right from the start in my discussions with the local authority (LA) I wanted reassurance that nothing would be enforced on us, and if we preferred to carry on with home education we could. The LA was supportive of this. The LA agreed to carry out EHCP assessments of my child and the reports commissioned by the LA stated that it was unlikely my child could successfully attend any local school, mainstream or special. LA reports also stated that it was highly unlikely that traditional tutors sent in to the home would work.

The process was very inclusive and we felt our opinions were valued and respected. We worked together with the LA to create a plan for our child and together agreed upon goals for the EHCP. We asked for a Personal Budget and Direct Payments to meet these goals. The LA agreed we were good candidates for the Personal Budget, and that the activities that were already working for the child would become part of the EHCP.

The entire EHCP process - from the initial assessment right through to receiving the Direct Payment funding - took a year. The staff were apologetic and supportive about the delays, which were mainly due to staff turnover and not having a step by step process for the Personal Budget.

The Personal Budget has had a huge positive impact. My child is meeting the goals set out in the ECHP, because of the tutors and activities that have been put in place. This is something that many children could benefit from. It would help if there were a clear procedure for applying for a PB, and specific criteria to me approved. For example a process more like the DLA (Disability Living Allowance) application could make things more straightforward and fair.

Most of the families who I know that are home educating children with special educational needs (SEN) have no support or funding. There is a common feeling among these families that asking for funding is like climbing Mount Everest, long and arduous with many associated risks along the way.

There is also a fear that asking for a Personal Budget is opening themselves up to being judged about their choices or even their abilities to parent the child, and their right to choose what they feel is best for their child could be taken away from them.

The first hurdle when I applied as a home educating parent was that i was seen as "elective home education" (EHE), but there is a distinct difference between elective and SEN home education. Elective home educating families have decided to home educate for personal, religious or lifestyle reasons, while a family with an SEN child may HE because nothing else worked, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to help their child succeed academically and emotionally.

Families of SEN kids who are home educating have not taken the decision to home educate lightly. For starters one parent has to give up their career, the family income is halved, and the strain of being a parent/teacher is not an easy task. Families like ours are home educating because the school system was not working for the child. For us it took many years of trying to make school work, before finally accepting that it was detrimental to force something that was never going to work, and was in fact destroying our child's mental health.

The current school system does not work for every child. The Personal Budget for education is a good way for the educational needs to be met in the more complex cases. Many to prefer to stay "under the radar" for fear of things going downhill for the child if they ask, of their wishes not being respected. This was not the case for us and I hope that many families and LAs will see that this can be a successful option for their child."

Why Home Educators DON'T Get Direct Payments for SEN

  • The Government amended the regulations to give local authorities more reasons to refuse PBs and DPs
  • Hardly ANYONE gets SEN DPs outside school transport arrangements
  • A home educated child likely doesn't have an Education Health and Care Plan in the first place
  • Where a home educated child DOES have an EHCP, the local authority says that the child's needs COULD be met in school and that parents have DECIDED to educate at home ("elective home education") as per 10.32 SEND Code ("parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996")

More about the 2015 SEND Code of Practice in relation to home education here

Where LA Agrees That Home Education Is Right Provision

10.31 In cases where local authorities and parents agree that home education is the right provision for a child or young person with an EHC plan, the plan should make clear that the child or young person will be educated at home. If it does then the local authority, under Section 42(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014, must arrange the special educational provision set out in the plan, working with the parents. Under Section 19 of the Act, a local authority must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parents, or the young person.

Where Parents Decide To Educate At Home

10.32 In cases where the EHC plan gives the name of a school or type of school where the child will be educated and the parents decide to educate at home, the local authority is not under a duty to make the special educational provision set out in the plan provided it is satisfied that the arrangements made by the parents are suitable. The local authority must review the plan annually to assure itself that the provision set out in it continues to be appropriate and that the child's SEN continue to be met (see Chapter 9). Where the local authority has decided that the provision is appropriate, it should amend the plan to name the type of school that would be suitable but state that parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

Link Reference

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  1. Link
  2. The Special Educational Needs (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 No. 2096
  3. SEN Personal Budgets Regulations 2014
  4. here
  5. get in touch
  6. here
  7. LINK
  8. LINK