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What are direct payments?

Direct payments are one way you can use to manage your personal budget.

Direct payments are a cash amount based on the amount agreed in your personal budget so that you can arrange and pay for social care support instead of the Council arranging services for you.

Direct payments offer greater flexibility, choice and control than support being arranged for you by the Council.‚Äč

The Council will, give every direct payment recipient that wants one, a pre-paid bank account for their direct payments to ease the financial management and reduce the manual audit process of the payment. This for example allows the Council to focus more on the care or support plan at the time of review rather than manually auditing the direct payment bank account. The individual is still free to exercise choice and control in line with their agreed outcomes in their care or support plan.

Since March 2015 the Council's preferred and default position is to give every direct payment recipient a pre-paid bank account. Consideration will be given for the Direct Payment to be paid into a 'old style' bank account if this is what an individual requests. The Council will agree this providing if this meets the individual's needs and keeps them safe and well.

It is your choice if you want to have a direct payment. The Council must be satisfied that you understand what it involves and that the way you choose to use the money will meet your needs and achieve the agree outcomes as stated in your support plan. The way you use them must be legal and keep you safe and well.

For example you may want to employ your own personal assistant, providing you with the support at the times you want. Alternatively you may decide you want to use money to buy support from a care agency. Or you may want to find an alternative to the types of respite support the Council could arrange for you.

Direct payments can be used in a wide range of creative ways as long as it is safe and legal to do so. There are some exceptions which your Council will explain to you on request.

Who can have direct payments?

You can only have direct payment once you have had an assessment and the Council agrees you are eligible for certain social care services and you are:

  • a disabled person aged 16 years and above
  • a parent of (or people with parental responsibility for) disabled children, to pay for services for the family
  • a carer aged 16 years and above, for services to meet the carers own assessed needs
  • a disabled person with parental responsibilities for a child, for services to support their parenting role
  • an appointed suitable or authorised person for someone who lacks capacity (the Council must agree who the suitable or authorised person is)

In most cases the Council must offer direct payments but for some people who are subject to some mental health legislation or aspects of criminal justice legislation the Council have the power rather than duty

Please ask the Council more about this. Some people who are placed under certain conditions by courts in relation to drug and alcohol dependencies are excluded from receiving direct payments.

More information about direct payments

  • direct payments are not a benefit
  • the money comes from Worcestershire County Council to meet your assessed social care needs and is an alternative to services which are organised for you
  • having direct payments will not affect your benefits or be counted as income
  • sometimes and by exceptional circumstances only, you may be able to employ someone who lives with you, but please talk to us about this first. There could be implications for any household benefits. Talk to your practitioner first
  • you can take time to decide if you want to use direct payments.
  • while you decide the council will arrange alternative services to meet your needs
  • you can add your own money to top up a Direct Payment to make it even more flexible
  • it may sound like a lot of work but don’t panic there is a lot of support to help you manage the scheme and succeed. The most important thing is you are in control but this doesn’t mean doing everything on your own
  • you can mix your care arrangements by choosing some services which will be arranged by the local authority and some Direct Payments - a mix and match of services that you choose
  • you do not have to calculate Tax and National Insurance if you employ someone - you can use a support service that will provide a payroll service for you
  • there are no difficult forms for you to fill in on most occasions we only need to see the direct payment bank account and statements to check your fund is working properly
  • if you are considering direct payments for someone who lacks capacity to consent to the direct payment please discuss with the practitioner
  • you may be able to employ a family member please talk to the practitioner about this
  • if direct payments do not work for you we can arrange services for you instead
  • most people who use direct payments say they would never go back or choose to have services arranged for them again. The most important thing is to be in control of your own life
  • direct payments mean that you have freedom, choice, control and flexibility in your life to have the help you need by making your own arrangements

Reviewing your direct payments

The Council reviews the making of new direct payments initially within six months, and thereafter every 12 months as set out in the care and support (direct payments) regulations 2014.

This review may not be a full review but is intended to be light-touch to ensure that the person is comfortable with using the direct payment, and experiencing no initial issues. In most cases the first direct payment review will be incorporated within the initial review of the care and support plan 6-8 weeks after sign- off. The discussion will include elements of managing and using the direct payment and if this review raises concerns then a full review of the plan will need to be carried out.

Where appropriate long-term support arrangements such third part support, insurance cover and payroll will be discussed to ensure the individual is fulfilling their responsibilities as the employer, in particular that they are submitting PAYE returns to HMRC as well as paying tax and national insurance deductions made to HMRC.  

Following the first review within the first six-months the Council than reviews every 12 months aligning the annual review of the direct payment with the general review of the care or support plan. Where a direct payment is being allocated to a nominated person, authorised person, or where there may be a family carer being paid for administrative support, the Council will ask that all of these parties as well as the person in need of care and support take part in the review.

Who can I contact for more advice?

You can contact the Access, Triage and Intervention Service (ATIS) please call 01905 768053.

Download: Pre-Payment accounts leaflet

Penderels Trust

Offer advice, guidance and practical solutions to enable people with disabilities and older people to live independently in their own homes, to achieve their goals in life and to help them play an active part in their community. For more help with personal budgets and direct payments visit the Penderels Trust website (opens in a new window).