The following information answers the most frequently asked questions surrounding Direct Payments.
What are Direct Payments?
Councils are able to offer some people money to pay for the services they need instead of arranging community services, such as home care services or day services, for them.
When a council gives someone money in this way, it is known as a Direct Payment.
People who get this money must use it to arrange services to meet their assessed care needs themselves. It is not extra income to be spent on other things that don't meet these needs.
A person can request to manage their Personal Budget as a Direct Payment themselves or ask someone they trust to do it for them (called a nominated person).
If the person in need of care and support lacks capacity (as assessed in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005) someone else can request the Direct Payment on the person's behalf and agrees to manage a Direct Payment for the person.
Who can't be given Direct Payments?
Some people cannot be given a Direct Payment. For further information please call Financial Support on 01724 298071.
What can Direct Payments be spent on?
The money is for you to arrange the services that you have been assessed as needing. You can, however:
recruit your own personal assistants to help you
employ self-employed personal assistants to help you
contract with an agency to provide your care
Direct Payments are intended to support independent living, so you cannot use them to pay for permanent residential care. You can use your Direct Payments to pay for short periods of residential care if it is agreed that you need this.
Direct Payments can also be used to purchase equipment you have been assessed for.
The money cannot be spent to buy social care services from the council, as the council is not allowed to sell its services in this way.
How will the Direct Payment be made?
We make Direct Payments using a pre-paid card. It simplifies the Direct Payment holder's record keeping and it keeps our own administrative costs down. We will customise each person’s pre-paid card to meet their needs and will ensure that it does not restrict their choice and control.
A third party organisation may be retained by the Direct Payment holder to manage payroll for Personal Assistants employed to support the person with care and support needs. We may agree to make payments directly to such an organisation on behalf of the Direct Payment holder.
How do I manage Direct Payments?
The council requires you to keep records in order to account for the money you receive – the pre-paid card account will give a statement that you can use.
The money you receive in Direct Payments is for services to meet your assessed care needs. The council is responsible for checking that it is used appropriately.
If you receive Direct Payments, then it is your responsibility to arrange the services you need, to manage any problems with the service and to account for the way you use the money. If you use the money to employ your own staff, you will have the legal responsibilities of an employer.
Advice and support to help you manage your Direct Payment is available from Adult Services, or other companies or agencies.
Who can I employ with Direct payments?
People who have a Direct Payment can decide themselves who they want to employ to assist them with their care, providing they are eligible to work.
However, you are only able to pay for services from the following people under exceptional circumstances:
- a spouse (husband or wife)
- a partner (the other member of an unmarried couple with whom they live)
- a close relative (or their spouse or partner) who lives in the same household as the person who receives the Direct Payments.
The council strongly advise that you undertake proper checks on people you intend to employ. Please note that we will, at no cost to the Direct Payment recipient, undertake a full Disclosure and Barring Service Check (DBS) on people you intend to employ.
How much are Direct Payments?
How much you receive as a Direct Payment will depend on the level of your care needs.
However, we have a responsibility to ensure that the best value for money is achieved. Therefore, we may not pay for some particular services, if your needs can be met in a different way that costs less.
The amount you receive is subject to annual review.
A Direct Payment may be used to buy care and support from organisations such as home care providers or care homes. Some people choose to employ staff themselves to meet their needs. Whilst this does require more organising many people think it works better for them.
Information on being an employer, aimed at people using Direct Payments, is available on the Disability and Tax website.
Your care and support plan will record how you intend to use the Direct Payment so that we and you are both clear about our respective responsibilities. This will include:
How needs will be met in the event of the Personal Assistant being absent, for example due to sickness, maternity leave or holiday
How you intend to carry out the legal duties of being an employer
The arrangements for dealing with any employment liabilities such as redundancy costs for the Personal Assistant (for example if the employment ends).
How the Personal Assistant will be recruited including the importance of checks and employment references. We will process, at no cost to the Direct Payment recipient, a full Disclosure and Barring Service Check (DBS) on people you intend to employ.
Arrangements for insurance cover including employers’ liability insurance and any other insurance that may be required.
In setting the Direct Payment amount the council will consider costs such as recruitment costs, Employers’ National Insurance Contributions, and any other costs by reason of the way in which the person’s needs will be met with the Direct Payment.
Will I have to make a financial contribution if I receive Direct Payments?
Everyone who receives care services within the community will be offered a Financial Assessment to contribute towards the cost of their care. The amount an individual is required to pay is dependent on their income and capital details and the amount of services they need.
For more information on direct payments, please contact Financial Support on 01724 298071.