Direct payments

Adult Social Care Services want to help people live independently with more choice and control over the care and support they need. Everyone eligible to receive social care support, will get clear information about the cost of their care and will be helped to make decisions about how they spend that money; this is called ‘self-directed support’. Direct payments is one way in which self directed support can help you to take charge of how you get the help you need.

Promoting wellbeing is not always about the council meeting needs directly. It is just as important for us to provide people with the information they need to take control of their care and support and choose the options that are right for them.

What are direct payments?

Direct payments are payments made to you by the council to buy the support you need, instead of the council arranging these for you.

Who can get direct payments?

Most people who have been assessed as needing social care support and are eligible to receive these services from the council can receive direct payments.

You could have a direct payment if:

  • You are over 16 years old
  • You can consent to having a direct payment to arrange your own support - You can nominate someone to receive and manage your Direct Payments for you, if you wish.
  • You lack mental capacity but have an Authorised person who can receive and manage the direct payment on your behalf

Examples of people who might be eligible to receive direct payments are:

  • people with physical and sensory disabilities
  • people with learning disabilities
  • people who have mental health needs
  • older people who may be frail
  • people with long term illness
  • people who may be terminally ill.

Everyone’s support needs are considered individually following an assessment of their care needs to see if they are eligible to receive services under the Care and support planning process.

People who cannot receive a direct payment

By law, some people may not be able to receive a direct payment; for example, if you have a court order against you which is related to drugs or alcohol. The council can give you advice if you think you may not be able to receive a direct payment.

Why use direct payments?

Having a direct payment means you can:

  • have control over your care and support arrangements
  • make your own choices and have more flexibility
  • have support to do things for yourself.

You can use the money to employ your own staff directly, or through an agency, rather than have the council make these arrangements for you. You can choose who supports you and when you want the support. For example, you may want to arrange to have help in the evenings and at weekends, rather than during the day.

You can choose to have direct payments to manage all or just some of your support. If you only want a direct payment for part of your support, we will arrange services for the rest. You can change your mind about having direct payments or having a provided service at any time by giving 4 weeks’ notice.

If you choose direct payments there is advice and guidance available to help you manage your care & support.

What can I buy using direct payments?

Direct payments must be used to pay for care & support that you are assessed as needing and are eligible to receive from social care services.

You can use a direct payment to pay for:

  • support from a care agency or other independent provider to help you live in your own home
  • support from a personal assistant that you choose yourself to help you live in your own home or to do different activities
  • personal care needs such as getting washed and dressed
  • different ways of getting respite and day care services
  • a one off payment for something specific, for example a membership fee, enrolling on an adult education course, or following an assessment by an Occupational Therapist you may be able to purchase equipment to increase your independence.

You cannot use a direct payment to pay for:

  • support from a relative, partner or anyone else who lives with you
  • long-term care in a care home or housing costs
  • household bills, for example gas or electricity bills
  • anything other than the care you need to meet your outcomes
  • food and drink, including meals you have delivered to your home
  • health needs, including treatment from the NHS
  • gambling, or anything illegal

Do direct payments affect my benefits?

No, direct payments do not affect your benefits, they are not considered as financial capital (income) and cannot be taken into account when you are assessed for welfare benefits.

How much will I get?

The amount of money you will get is based upon the assessment of your needs as well as a personal financial assessment to see if you have to contribute towards the cost of your care. Each person is assessed individually.

Do I have to use direct payments?

No. You can choose any of these options:

  • you can choose to take direct payments
  • you can choose to take direct payments to meet some of your support needs and let the council arrange the rest
  • you can have services arranged and provided for you by the council

The council encourages people to take ownership of their care planning, and be free to choose how their needs are met, whether through local authority or third-party provision, by direct payments, or a combination of the three approaches.

People who use direct payments enjoy the flexibility and choice which is offered and many say it has given them greater self esteem and confidence.

However payments may not suit everyone. If you change your mind about receiving direct payments you can have services arranged for you by giving 4 weeks’ notice.

What do I have to do if I get a direct payment?

You, your Nominated or Authorised person will need to sign an agreement with the council outlining your responsibilities - this is call a Direct Payment Agreement.

When you get direct payments there are some rules you have to follow. You have to:

  • use the money to pay for the support the council has agreed you need
  • keep records of how the money is used
  • follow the laws and regulations to do with employing staff if you decide to recruit a personal assistant
  • have your direct payment paid into a separate bank account

The council will have to satisfy itself that the needs for which it is giving you the direct payments are being met.
You will have to account for the direct payments money that you spend. We will tell you what records you need to keep and what information you’ll be expected to provide and how often. Information such as time sheets signed by your personal assistant, services purchased from an agency and bank statements showing the payments made will need to be provided regularly.

The council will review your direct payment within the first 6 months of making the first payment to ensure that you are clear about what is expected, you have all your records in place and to answer any questions that you might have.

What support can I get?

There is lots of support available to help you with managing a direct payment. For example:

  • If you want to buy care from an agency, you can refer to the Care Quality Commission website for provider compliance with quality assurance.
  • If you need to help to manage the money, you can get a friend, family member or someone else who has authority to act on your behalf to help you.
  • If you want to employ your own personal assistant, you can use a payroll company who will work out how much National Insurance and tax you have to pay each month. There is usually a charge for this service, but you can pay for that using part of your direct payment.
  • You can get information about how to arrange employer’s liability insurance and a list of companies that offer it to people who use direct payments to employ staff.
  • You can get guidance with setting up a budget, advertising and recruiting personal assistants from the council.

I think direct payments is the right choice for me - what do I do next?

You need to contact Adult Social Care Services on 01753 475111 or by email to adultsocialcare@slough.gov.uk and ask for a social care assessment.

If you already get help from Slough Adult Social Care Services, say that you want to change to direct payments.