The law says that a person's eligible needs must be met by the council. A council can do this either by arranging for support services to be provided directly, or by giving the service user a personal budget. This means the service user is allocated a sum of money for their services so they have more choice and control over the services they get. Some people have direct payments, which are actual cash payments with which they can buy the services they want.
There is no law that mentions personal budgets; they are simply a government policy. If a person has a personal budget the council still has a duty to meet their needs, and if their personal budget is not enough to get the support they need the council has a responsibility to do something about it.
Because the government wants everyone to be on a personal budget, many councils are switching people to this arrangement. They should only do this if they have fully involved the service user and supported them to get the most out of their personal budget, but in some cases people are not being given much choice or support. This goes against the very reason personal budgets were created.
It is important to note that a personal budget cannot be used as an excuse to make a cut - a person should continue to get the same level of support that they were getting before they switched to a personal budget. A person’s personal budget must be enough to pay for the help they need - if it is not, the local authority has effectively cut the person’s care package without reassessing them and this is unlawful. Look at the care plan to see what support the council says the person needs and then compare this with what the person can afford with their personal budget. If the personal budget is not enough to get the support they need, they can complain. For information on how to complain see the Making a complaint section.