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Commonly Used Terms

Direct Payment:

Money that is paid to you (or someone acting on your behalf) on a regular basis by your local council so you can arrange your own support, instead of receiving social care services arranged by the council. Direct payments are available to people who have been assessed as being eligible for council-funded social care. They are not yet available for residential care. This is one type of personal budget.

Personal Budget:

Money that is allocated to you by your local council to pay for care or support to meet your assessed needs. The money comes solely from adult social care. You can take your personal budget as a direct payment, or choose to leave the council to arrange services (sometimes known as a managed budget) – or a combination of the two.

Support Plan:

A plan you develop that says how you will spend your personal budget to get the life you want. You need to map out your week, define the outcomes you hope to achieve, and show how the money will be used to make these happen. Your local council must agree the plan before it makes money available to you.

OBSA (Outcome Based Supported Assessment):

Assessment completed with a Social Worker / Care Manager to establish if you are entitled to a Personal Budget and look at the support you need to live independently.

RAS (Resource Allocation System):

The system some councils use to decide how much money people get for their support. There are clear rules, so everyone can see that money is given out fairly. Once your needs have been assessed, you will be allocated an indicative budget – so that you know how much money you have to spend on care and support. The purpose of an indicative budget is to help you plan the care and support that will help you meet your assessed needs – it might not be the final amount that you get, as you may find that it is not enough (or is more than enough) to meet those needs.

Care Manager:

Another term commonly used for Social Worker 

Personal Assistant (PA):

Someone you choose and employ to provide the support you need, in the way that suits you best. This may include cooking, cleaning, help with personal care such as washing and dressing, and other things such as getting out and about in your community. Your personal assistant can be paid through direct payments or a personal budget.


A way of thinking about care and support services that puts you at the centre of the process of working out what your needs are, choosing what support you need and having control over your life. It is about you as an individual, not about groups of people whose needs are assumed to be similar, or about the needs of organisations.


Someone whose job it is to provide you with advice and information about what services are available in your area, so that you can choose to purchase the care and support that best meets your needs. They can also help you think about different ways that you can get support, for example by making arrangements with friends and family. A broker can help you think about what you need, find services and work out the cost. Brokerage can be provided by local councils, voluntary organisations or private companies.

Continuing Healthcare:

On-going care outside hospital for someone who is ill or disabled, arranged and funded by the NHS. This type of care can be provided anywhere, and can include the full cost of a place in a nursing home.It is provided when your need for day to day support is mostly due to your need for health care, rather than social care. The Government has issued guidance to the NHS on how people should be assessed for continuing health care, and who is entitled to receive it.

Personal Health Budget:

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support your health and well being needs, which is planned and agreed between you (or someone who represents you), and your local NHS team. It is not new money, but it may mean spending money differently so that you can get the care that you need. A personal health budget allows you to manage your healthcare and support such as treatments, equipment and personal care, in a way that suits you. It works in a similar way to personal budgets, which allows people to manage and pay for their social care needs.


In social care, an ‘outcome’ refers to an aim or objective you would like to achieve or need to happen – for example, continuing to live in your own home, or being able to go out and about. You should be able to say which outcomes are the most important to you, and receive support to achieve them.


A service giving carers a break, by providing short-term care for the person with care needs in their own home or in a residential setting. It can mean a few hours during the day or evening, ‘night sitting’, or a longer-term break. It can also benefit the person with care needs by giving them the chance to try new activities and meet new people. 


When you receive a re-assessment of your needs and you and the people in your life look at whether the services you are receiving are meeting your needs and helping you achieve your chosen outcomes.Changes can then be made if necessary.

Self-directed support:

An approach to social care that puts you at the centre of the support planning process, so that you can make choices about the services you receive.It should help you feel in control of your care, so that it meets your needs as an individual.


When you arrange and pay for your own care services and do not receive financial help from the council.

The above information was taken from:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a Personal Budget?

To request a Personal Budget you need to contact your Local Authority and ask for an assessment; a Social Worker will contact you and complete an assessment to find out if you are eligible for a Personal Budget. Following this assessment you will be given an indicative Personal Budget (RAS) and you will need to complete a support plan outlining how you would like to spend your money and the outcomes you want to achieve. The Local Authority must authorise your Support Plan before you can receive a Personal Budget.

Will I have to contribute towards my Personal Budget?

You may need to pay for some of your support; a financial assessment will be carried out by the Local Authority to establish how much you can afford to pay. 

Can I change my mind about having a Personal Budget?

Yes, you can opt out at any stage in acquiring a Personal Budget or once you are in receipt of a Personal Budget. For example, once you have had a financial assessment to determine your contribution to your care and you feel this is too much, you can decide not to continue with your Personal Budget.

What if I can’t manage my Personal Budget independently?

You can manage your Personal Budget independently, or you can be supported by family or friends to manage this. You can also receive support from Organisations and Services who have specialist knowledge and experience in this area, such as Blue Sky Brokers. Blue Sky Brokers can provide practical support to enable you to manage your Personal Budget, such as help with recruitment, help setting up a Payroll Service and Employer’s Liability Insurance, help resolving employment issues and much more.

How will Social Services pay the money to me?

There are several different ways to receive Personal Budget funds from Social Services: if you have a managed service (and use services/agencies that Social Services contract with directly) Social Services keep the money for your care and pay it to the service/agency directly on your behalf. You can also receive your Personal Budget as a direct payment – if you are able to manage your Personal Budget payment independently or with the help of friends/family you will need to open a stand-alone bank account for the money to be paid into on a four weekly basis. If you are not able to manage your Personal Budget payment independently you can opt for a third party to manage it on your behalf.

You can also have a combination of a Direct Payment and a Managed service, for example if you employ a Personal Assistant and also receive support from a Domiciliary Care Agency who contract with the Social Services.

How do Social Services Monitor my Personal Budget?

If you receive your Personal Budget as a direct payment you will be required to complete Financial Monitoring forms and provide bank statements to Social Services every quarter.

Can I employ a relative as my Personal Assistant?

You can employ anybody who does not live in the same household as you, however a Personal Budget should not be used to pay for existing networks of support.

Can I pay for long-term residential care from my Personal Budget?

No, but you can pay for short respite breaks in residential care.

What happens if I have a problem with the staff I employ?

You should be aware of Employment Law and the Disciplinary Procedure when employing Personal Assistants. You can seek free advice from ACAS and some Employer’s Liability Insurance providers also offer employment advice. Blue Sky Brokers can offer advice, guidance and practical support if you have any issues with your Personal Assistants, and can also provide support when setting up your Personal Assistants which will hopefully reduce the likelihood of issues arising.

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