A direct payment is money we contribute towards meeting your care and support needs.
It's a regular payment made directly to you or someone else you choose, so that you can arrange and pay for the care and support you need instead of receiving services straight from us.
Direct payments aren't liable for income tax and won't affect your benefits.
How to get a direct payment
If you receive social care support you can choose direct payments. The direct payment will be created following your assessment.
If you're not receiving social care support contact Care Direct.
Who can have direct payments
Payments can be made to:
- adults over 16
- parents of disabled children
- disabled parents
You'll be responsible for the money received. If you aren’t able to, or don’t want to manage your own finances, another person can manage the direct payments on your behalf.
Would one be suitable for you
Most people find direct payments are a good choice.
If you're a carer you can use direct payments to buy the services you're assessed as needing to support you in your caring role. This includes support that may help maintain your health and wellbeing.
See carers for more information.
Direct payments can offer older people much more flexible ways of getting care. For example:
- allowing you to arrange home care for a time that suits you
- employing a carer who you know and trust
- short term help, for example, after a hospital stay.
You can also have a mixture of direct payments and services from us.
People with learning difficulties
If you have a learning difficulty then direct payments could work well for you. Direct payments would give you more choice about services. For example you could use your money to pay for a daily activity that you enjoy.
If you would find it hard to manage direct payments yourself, someone you know well could manage them for you.
What happens next if you choose direct payments
We'll let you know how much money is available and create a support plan with you and your family.
You'll need to record the money you spend, so we know how you're using direct payments to meet your assessed needs. We'll tell you what information you need to provide.
We'll arrange for the Direct Payments Support Services to contact you. They can help you manage your budget, for example:
- advice on budgeting the money and keeping records
- using an agency or other services
- employing a personal assistant - recruiting, managing and paying them.
How you'll get the money
You'll need to set up a separate bank account specifically for your direct payments. You'll need to keep bank statements for your direct payment account so that we can monitor it.
What you can use the money for
You must use the money to meet your assessed needs. You can choose to employ a personal assistant or you can pay an agency to support you.
You can employ a family member - as long as they do not live in your home.
You can't use direct payments to pay for residential care.
Employing a personal assistant
If you decide to employ a personal assistant you'll become an employer and will have certain responsibilities under the law.
For more information see employing personal assistants on the Skills for Care website.
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More help and advice
- Contact Care Direct on 0117 922 2700
- Direct payments factsheet (pdf, 99 KB) (opens new window)
- Direct payments and personal budgets on NHS Choices
- Direct payments on Carers UK
- Employing personal assistants on Skills for Care
- The Care Act - how the Care Act can help you
- Care and support jargon buster