Direct Payments

Direct payments are cash payments made to individuals who have been assessed as needing services, in lieu of social service provisions.

Who can receive a direct payment?

They can be made to disabled people aged 16 or over, to people with parental responsibility for disabled children, and to carers aged 16 or over in respect of carer services. A person must be able to consent to have a direct payment and have the capacity to manage one, although they can have assistance to manage their payment on a day-to-day basis.

Giving people choice and control over their own care

The aim of a direct payment is to give more flexibility in how services are provided. By giving individuals money in lieu of social care services, people have greater choice and control over their lives, and are able to make their own decisions about how their care is delivered.

The duty to provide direct payments

The law has been changed so that it is a duty to make direct payments. This means that councils must make a direct payment to eligible individuals who are able to provide consent. Direct payments should be discussed as a first option at each assessment and each review.

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The latest community care statistics indicate that the changes are having a positive effect. From 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, 37,000 adults received direct payments during the year, a rise of over 50 per cent from 24,000 in 2004-05. This figure does not include children or carers.

A Direct Payment is not a benefit and it will not affect any benefits you receive. A Direct Payment is not deemed as income so this will not prevent you from claiming benefits.

You have a right to buy and manage your own care if you want. We will offer you the option of Direct Payments and we will refer you to someone who can help you manage this process through our Direct Payments Support Scheme.

To give more power to the people who use social care, the Government introduced a new system called Direct Payments. This gives you the ability to choose and buy your own care. With Direct Payments, they pay you an agreed amount (less any amount you have to pay yourself). You can then hire the care service of your choice. That way they work for you and not for the council.

Why would I want direct payments?

  • Direct payments allow people to take more of the decisions which affect their lives. They give you more flexibility and choice, by enabling people of all ages to purchase care for them selves that better suits their individual needs.
  • If you receive direct payments, you can decide how your needs will be met, by whom and at what time. You are in control. You may make arrangements directly; so that any staff you employ report directly to you. If you have a contract with an agency, the agency will be accountable to you, not the local council.
  • For example, some older people may not always find social services flexible enough to respond to their needs, or some may feel that services lack in continuity. You may find that the home help or carer arranged by the council cannot come at the time you want. With direct payments, you can arrange for someone to come whenever it suits you.


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