Direct Payments: Paying For Disability Care & Support

Service users with direct payments

If you, or someone that you are responsible for, has been assessed as having a need for support that will be funded through Social Services, you will be entitled to receive “Direct Payments”.

What are Direct Payments? How do they work?

Direct Payments are one option for managing a Personal Budget that has been allocated to an individual within their care and support plan.

A Direct Payment is made by your local authority directly to you, to organise the support services you need yourself.

Payments can be made to those aged 16 or over with care needs, to people with parental responsibility for children in need of care, and to carers aged 16 or over in respect of carer services.

Who is entitled to Direct Payments? Who isn’t?

If you have a support or care plan and you’re eligible to receive social care support, you can choose to arrange services yourself rather than having your local Council do it for you.

The law relating to Direct Payments for adults is covered by the Care Act 2014. They can be made both to people with care and support needs and to their carers.

According to the Care Act, Direct Payments are available if:

  • The local authority has assessed the service user, found they are eligible for care and support, and the service user requests a Direct Payment
  • They have capacity to request a payment, and if there is a nominated person, they agree to receive payment
  • The local authority believes the adult or nominated person can manage a Direct Payment and that this option is appropriate

If a person lacks capacity to make a request, an ‘authorised person’ can request them on their behalf as long as certain conditions are met.

Here’s a helpful list of who can receive Direct Payments:

  • Disabled people aged 16+
  • Older people
  • People with learning disabilities
  • Users of mental health services
  • Carers aged 16+ who are eligible for carers’ services
  • Disabled parents
  • People with parental responsibility for disabled children under 16

Why choose Direct Payments?

Direct Payments can give added flexibility and more choice to the service user, allowing for support to be personalised around their individual needs. It puts you in control.

You become part of the decision making process about how support needs will be met, when and by whom.

You’ll have the opportunity to employ your own support staff, which means they’ll be directly accountable to you rather than your local Council.

What are the downsides?

You may not want to choose Direct Payments if:

  • You’re not willing to pay for services directly
  • You’re not confident about record keeping or filing documents like receipts (there’s help available for this!)
  • You often spend time in hospital
  • You’re happy with your local authority providing care and support services.

How much will you receive?

There is no set maximum or minimum amount for Direct Payments. The amount paid depends entirely on the assessed level of need. The Payments must be enough to pay for any support required.

What can Direct Payments be used for?

You can use Direct Payments to meet any assessed needs. You can spend them on:

  • Employing someone to help look after the service user; this person could be a support worker.
  • To enable the service user to enjoy activities, such as youth clubs, sports clubs or day trips.
  • To purchase disability living equipment, as agreed by an occupational therapist.

What can’t Direct Payments be used for?

The local authority will set out which elements of support they expect the payments to cover. Usually, this excludes:

  • Buying permanent residential care
  • Any services provided directly by a local authority
  • Services that replace the NHS, housing, DSS benefits or Independent Living Fund payments
  • Paying for household bills
  • Anything illegal

How can we help?

We can arrange to meet you, explain how the system works and assess the suitability of our involvement. If deemed appropriate we would carry out a comprehensive assessment, discuss the options with you and draw up a suitable plan of care and support, with a detailed costing.

Providing the right service, at the right time and to meet your needs is essential in developing a partnership and building a trusting relationship together.

If you’d like to look at an independent guide to Direct Payments, visit Citizens Advice.

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