Personal Budgets

A human rights-based way to fund and organise support.

What are Personal Budgets? 

A Personal Budget is an amount of money which is provided to a person by the public authorities. The person can decide how to use the money to cover their support needs.

There are many advantages associated to personal budgets. The most important ones are the following:

  • Individuals have more choice and control over the type of care they wish to receive and the life they want to live;
  • Services are more tailored to the needs of the users;
  • Individuals experience major improvements in their general health, well-being and personal dignity;
  • Services are fully integrated in the community and accessible by all;
  • Professionals are more satisfied with their jobs because they see the positive impact they have on the quality of life of persons with care and support needs.

Personal budgets funding systems represent a reform of the traditional funding model for social care and support services, including long-term care services. In traditional models, public funding goes from the public authorities directly to the service providers, who then provide the relevant services to persons with care and support needs. However, in this way, individuals have limited choice and control over the type of services they want to receive. This also means that these systems are not able to guarantee the respect of the Human Rights principles. For example:

  • the right to receive support
  • the right to freedom, choice and control
  • the right to contribute to the community
  • the right to inclusion and independent living.

To the contrary, user-centred funding models put the person with care and support needs at the centre of the model. Individuals are free to choose and receive the type of support they need. These models also help people to have more freedom, citizenship, and access to their human rights, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).


The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) is an international agreed document among States which sets out the rights of people with disabilities. People with disabilities have the same human rights as everyone else and that is what the Convention highlights.

Some of the key principles promoted and protected by the Convention are: 

  • Respect of inherent dignity 
  • Self-determination and individual autonomy 
  • Non-discrimination 
  • Equality of opportunity 
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in the society 
  • Accessibility.

For more information click here

The UNIC Project 

The goal of this project is to help public authorities to implement user-centred funding models. The project is also aimed at helping service users in long term care and support (LTCS) to move to these funding models, as well as their service providers. User-centred funding models can include Personal Budgets. A Personal budget is an amount of money which is provided to an person by the public authorities and the person can decide how to use it to cover their support needs.

UNIC has developed a TOOLBOX to help service users, service providers and mainly public authorities to implement a user-centred funding model in long-term care and support.


Pictured at a UNIC Project conference on 'Personal budgets: a human rights-based way to fund and organise support', which took place in Brussels on 13 September, are:

Front row: Dr Emer Begley, Director of Advocacy and Inclusion with DFI, Fionn Angus, Fionnathan Productions, and Maggie Woods, Áiseanna Tacaíochta, AT Network.  

Back row: Brian Higgins, Assistant National Director, HSE, Jonathan Angus, Fionnathan Productions and Lisa Fenwick, Community Development Officer with DFI. 

Fionn, Jonathan, Maggie and Brian all spoke as part of panel discussions at the conference.