Direct Payments

1. What is a Direct Payment?

A Direct Payment is defined as: ‘A monetary payment made in lieu of social care services, directly to people that have been assessed as having a care and support need’.

Local authorities and Health Authorities in England and Wales have a statutory responsibility to offer people (including carers), with assessed support needs, the option of receiving a Direct Payment.

Direct Payments are most Local Authority’s preferred method for people to manage and receive care and support. Health Authorities are starting to offer Direct Payments more widely.

Depending on the person’s financial circumstances, they may be asked to make a financial contribution towards the costs of their care and support package (local authority only).

There are some limitations on how Direct Payments can be used. For example, people cannot usually pay someone that lives in the same household as them (authorities can use their discretion).

If the person employs staff with the Direct Payment, they will be expected to comply with employment law.

They will be responsible for how the Direct Payment is used, and local authorities (or health authorities) will monitor that the money is spent as agreed in the care plan.

2. What is needed to qualify?

A person can get a Direct Payment if they are of any age and assessed as needing care and support provided by health and/or social care services.

This includes people who:

  • Have a physical disability or sensory impairment.
  • Have a learning disability.
  • Have a mental health condition.
  • Have parental responsibility for a child with a disability.
  • Are 16+ and provide substantial care for a person with a disability.

Direct payments give people more choice about their care and support arrangements.

To receive a Direct Payment the person’s needs must be assessed and agreed with a social worker and/or health worker.

Most people use their direct payments currently to recruit and employ their own personal assistants. The Direct Payment may be used for something else but it must be used as agreed with your social worker or health worker and included in the support plan.

People who decide to become an employer take on the responsibility of paying tax and National Insurance for their personal assistant(s) and they will be expected to manage these payments and comply with employment legislation. As scary as this may sound, people are not left to muddle through on their own because support is provided every step of the way to help this go as smoothly as possible.

The DRC Direct Payment Support Service offers a payroll service that will sort out all of the Tax and National insurance. The DRC also advises on employment legislation.

3. Spending Direct Payments

The funding authority will determine the amount of the DP using an hourly rate. The money paid to personal assistants will be an amount lower than this. The rest of the hourly rate will be used to meet employment costs and to encourage good employment practice (e.g. taking out employment liability insurance).

Money is allocated to the person with care needs. To ensure that the money handed over is not used as a ‘benefit’ or the person’s own money, the funding authority ask that the funds are paid into a bank account specific for the Direct Payment. The Person signs an agreement that the funds will be used to fulfil needs for personal support, as agreed in the care and support plan.

For more information about how to use Direct Payments please see the information on our website here: or contact the Direct Payment Support Team on 01582 470900 option 2.

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