If you or someone you care for get help from social services, you can apply for direct payments. This means that you can arrange and pay for all or part of your care and support services yourself rather than getting services directly from us.
You can only get direct payments if you've been assessed by us as needing care and support services.
What a direct payment is
We provide you with money for the support that you've been assessed as needing in your care and support plan. You then shop for people to provide these services and pay them with the funding from us. This could include employing a personal care assistant.
This way of managing your support gives you more say in what care you get, who supplies it and when.
You will get the same sum of money whether you choose this way to arrange and pay for your care as you would if we were to handle it all for you.
A direct payment does not count as income so this will not affect your tax or benefits.
Who direct payments are for
Most people who qualify for social care can choose to set up a direct payment. This includes:
- older people
- disabled people over the age of 16
- people with physical and/or sensory disabilities
- people with learning disabilities
- people with mental health issues
- a person with parental responsibility for a disabled child under 16, including parents and people with legal parental responsibility and who are not the child's parents
- carers who are over the age of 16 and have been assessed as needing services to support them in their caring roles and to maintain their own health and wellbeing
A person lacking mental capacity to consent to a direct payment can have a representative to manage it for them.
You must be willing and able to manage the direct payments yourself, with some support if it's needed.
The benefits of direct payments
A direct payment arrangement will give you more say in who provides your care and support and when they deliver it.
For example, you could choose to hire care workers or personal assistants who:
- are always the same people and available when you need them
- speak the same language as you
- have experience working with your care needs
- are a specific person that has been recommended to you
- can help you get to shops or social events
There are many ways you could choose to use the money. It's your choice as long as you're spending your personal budget on things that meet your agreed care plan.
You can only buy services that are safe, legal and meet your needs.
What you can use a direct payment for
- for personal care to keep you safe, healthy and comfortable
- to help you take up opportunities to help you get a job or improve your wellbeing
- to help you connect with your local community
- to buy care and support services from a business or to employ someone to help you, known as a personal assistant
- to employ someone to give additional support if you have parental responsibility for a disabled child
Find out about personal assistants
What you can't use a direct payment for
- buying health services
- buying long term residential care
- paying household bills or other personal expenses
- buying services directly provided by the Council
Direct payments can't normally be used to employ close relatives who live in the same household.
Help to manage your direct payments
If you decide to use a direct payment to purchase your care and support, we have a support service that can help you with:
- advice and assistance with how to be an employer, recruiting and employing your own staff, including payroll support, HR support and checks to ensure you are safeguarded
- managing your direct payment monies on your behalf
You can also ask your social care worker for details of how your direct payment will work for you.
You can be helped by your relatives or friends if you prefer, if they help you to be in control of your support and do what is right for you.
Financial assessments (only applies to adults)
Every adult receiving a non-residential service, including a direct payment for care services should have a financial assessment to determine whether they have to pay a contribution towards the costs of their care. This charge does not currently apply to carers.
If your financial assessment results in you, the adult, needing to contribute towards the cost of your care and support, the amount of your contribution will be deducted from the payment we make to you. You will need to make sure that the amount of your contribution is paid into your direct payment bank account so that you have the right amount of money available to pay for your care services. The Direct Payment team will set up a bank account for this purpose for you, or a carer.
Setting up a direct payment
If you think you might be eligible to receive direct payments, please contact us to arrange for an assessment of your needs. Your social worker will then discuss whether a direct payment is a suitable way to meet your needs with you.
- Age UK have a detailed fact sheet on personal budgets and direct payments in social care
- The Money Advice Service has a guide to direct paymentsDisability Rights UK have more information on getting a personal assistant
- Read more about employing someone to work in your home on the Gov.uk website