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Personal Budgets

What is a Personal Budget?

If you have a long standing mental health problem you may wish to apply for a Personal Budget to pay for support to meet your needs. This is a sum of money allocated to you by the council if, following an assessment, you are found to be eligible for this kind of help.

A Personal Budget gives you more control over the support you get. You choose what kind of support you wish to spend it on.

Who can get a Personal Budget?

Everyone is allowed to ask to be assessed for a Personal Budget.

You will need to be a resident of Southwark, or be registered with a Southwark GP, to be assessed.

How do you find out if you can get a Personal Budget?

You will need to access the Community Mental Health Team for an assessment. A qualified social worker will discuss your health with you and you will go through the assessment together. Then you will find out if you are eligible or not.

How do I get in touch with the Community Mental Health Team?

You can get in touch yourself, or you can speak to your GP who can help you refer. Alternatively you can get in touch with the Hub and we can help you.

What happens after my assessment?

You will be told whether or not you are eligible for a Personal Budget.

If you are not eligible, get in contact with the Hub and we can talk to you about the free services available to you in Southwark.

If you are eligible then your social worker will talk you through your Indicative Budget. This is the approximate amount that your Personal Budget will be.

This process is also known as the Resource Allocation System or RAS.

Support Planning

After you have an Indicative Budget then you and your social worker will start the support planning process. This is when you look at what things in Southwark would help support you with your mental wellbeing.

The Hub is here to help you find out all the options you have to spend your Personal Budget.


The support planning process starts with identifying outcomes. Outcomes are the goals that you would like to achieve as part of your journey to recovery. They can be big or small as long as they are important to you.

What can I spend my Personal Budget on?

You can spend your Personal Budget on anything that helps you improve your mental wellbeing. However, you can’t spend it on anything that falls into the following categories:

  • Gambling (including bingo)
  • Drink and drugs
  • Tobacco
  • Paying off debt
  • Anything illegal
  • Anything that will bring harm to you or someone else

What are social care contributions?

Even if you are eligible for a Personal Budget, you may be required to contribute to the cost of your support. You will be assessed on your income and savings to see if you need to contribute.

How do I manage my Personal Budget?

There are a few options for you to manage your budget:

1. Self managed

The preferred option is that you manage it yourself. This is called a Direct Payment, because it is paid directly to a bank account that you manage. It will need to be a separate bank account from your normal one.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to do this all by yourself. You can get help from friends or family, or there are organisations that can help you.

2. Council managed

If you don’t feel able, comfortable or safe to manage your own Personal Budget then the Council can manage this on your behalf. They will pay this directly to organisations you have chosen to support you.

3. Third party managed

If you don’t feel comfortable managing your Direct Payment then another option is that you find an organisation or person you trust to manage it for you.

These are called Managed Account Providers (MAP) or Individual Service Funds (ISF).

They will maintain good records for you and pay invoices etc. They will make sure they send up-to-date records to the Council to make sure everything is above board.

4. Mixed

If you feel that you are able to manage a portion of your budget but not the whole thing then you can choose from a combination of the options above.

Personal Budget agreement

If you are thinking about taking your Personal Budget as a Direct Payment then you will need to read and sign a Personal Budget Agreement.

This agreement lists the responsibilities of all parties and is an important document that the Council must have before any payments can be made.

Your Social Worker will help you go through the Personal Budget Agreement, but you can also get in contact with the Hub and we can help you understand it too.