Direct Payments from Social Services are payments made to you or the person you’re looking after so that you can buy care services for yourself. They aim to give you more flexibility in how your services are provided. By giving you money instead of social care services, you have greater choice and control over your life, and are able to make your own decisions about how your care is delivered.
How to get Direct Payments
The decision to award Direct Payments takes place after an assessment by Social Services. If the outcome of the assessment is that services will be provided, you as the person needing the care has a right to ask for Direct Payments instead of having the service arranged by Social Services. If you’re already getting support from Social Services, you can ask to get Direct Payments instead.
Choosing Direct Payments
In most cases, Social Services must offer Direct Payments as an option. If you aren’t able to manage your own Direct Payments, it’s possible for another person to manage it on your behalf if you want them to. The choice of Direct Payments is voluntary. Neither you nor the person looking after you can be forced to have Direct Payments. If you decide to have Direct Payments, you can change your mind about this at any time. If you no longer want Direct Payments, contact your local Social Services and ask them to arrange services instead. It’s possible to try Direct Payments by asking Social Services for a direct payment for some of your support while you continue to get your other support directly from Social Services.
Managing Direct Payments
When you receive Direct Payments, there will be various obligations. These include:
- Keeping records and accounting for how the money is spent to Social Services.
- Taking on the legal role of an employer if you’re using the payment to pay for a care worker, and undertaking all the legal responsibilities that go with it. Help may be available from local organisations to manage the administration involved and other responsibilities.
You should be able to get support with managing Direct Payments if you need it. Everyone who gets support from Social Services should have their needs reassessed at least once a year. If your needs change at any point, you should contact Social Services for a reassessment.
Social Services can charge for some services that they provide. This means that if you get Direct Payments, you may need to make a financial contribution towards the direct payment. Your local Social Services should tell you if you’ll need to contribute, and how much. Their charges must be fair, and they must follow the rules described in their information on Homecare costs.
Direct Payments can only be spent on things that will meet your assessed needs. If you spend a direct payment on something that doesn’t meet your needs, Social Services can recover the money from you. If you already have a Direct Payment, but want to have a bit more flexibility with your care package, you might want to think about asking for a Personal Budget.