This page contains information on direct payments including:
- What is a direct payment?
- What can I use the direct payment for?
- If I'm a carer what can I use the direct payment for?
- Are there things that I can’t use direct payments for?
- How much will I get?
- What help and support can I have?
- What do I have to do to get a Direct payment?
- What else do I need to know?
- Further help and information
- More about employing a personal assistant
What is a direct payment?
Direct payments are a means of providing your personal budget which will be allocated to you by social services if you are eligible to receive care and support. Direct payments are made to you or the person you're looking after so that you can buy care services for yourself. Direct payments 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.
You must be able to give your consent to receiving direct payments and be able to manage them yourself or with the help of a nominated person, someone you know who can help with the financial management.
What can I use the direct payment for?
Direct payments can be used to arrange support designed to meet your individual needs and outcomes. A direct payment is sometimes given so that you can arrange a short break, sometimes called respite care, or for you to buy the equipment that you need to stay independent. Direct payments can also be used to pay for help.
With a direct payment you can choose to buy care from an agency or you can employ your own personal assistant (PA). If you employ a PA you will become an employer and be responsible for recruiting, employing, organising and paying the wages of your own staff. This enables you to have choice and control over your daily life by deciding what support is right for you, when, where and how you want it. The Direct Payment also allows you to choose and pay for an agency of your own choice, if you do not wish to employ a personal assistant directly. However, you are still in control of how and what agency supports you.
If I am a Carer, what can I use the direct payment for?
You can get a direct payment to pay for support or services which will help you to “carry on” as a Carer, by giving you a break from your caring role - you cannot use the payment for support to the person you care for.
Are there things that I can’t use direct payments for?
Direct payments are not extra money for you to spend just as you wish and there are also some things that they cannot be used for, such as:
- NHS or other health services
- Permanent residential or nursing home care
- Services which are directly managed or provided by the Council
How much will I get?
The amount of money you can receive as a direct payment depends on the level of your needs and the support you require to live in your own home – we take into account what it would cost if the council provided the services instead. Unless you are a Carer, you will usually have to pay a contribution to the cost of your services.
You can choose to employ a personal assistant with your direct payment.
A personal assistant (PA) is someone employed to provide some of the personal help and support a person requires both at home and in the community.
It is important that if you are using your direct payment to employ a personal assistant, you become that persons employer. You can find out more about employing a personal assistant by contacting the Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living using the following:
Tel: 01380 725400 / 01380 727548 / 01380 729497 / 0300 1233 442
If you use all parts of your direct payment to employ personal assistants you will receive:
- For the first 9 hours, £11.84 per hour for a lower personal assistant.
- Anything over 9 hours, £13.65 per hour for a higher personal assistant.
What help and support can I have?
The Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living (CIL) can help with managing a direct payment and employing staff or an agency. Wiltshire CIL is a user-led group and a registered charity. It is committed to ensuring all people live independently as full citizens with choice, equal rights and equal opportunities.
Wiltshire CIL offers a range of support from - extensive guidance on-line, email correspondence, workshops, groups and mentoring opportunities (to get support and guidance from experienced customers), or a visit from a Wiltshire CIL advisor. You will also have access to a free ‘pay roll’ service to pay your PAs if you choose to employ people directly. You will be referred to Wiltshire CIL once you have decided to have a Direct Payment and have had your assessment with a social care worker. You can also contact Wiltshire CIL on 01380 725 400 or look at their website for useful information and advice http://www.wiltshirecil.org.uk/.
What do I have to do to get a direct payment?
Stage One: Wiltshire Council Social care team will carry out an assessment. This will assess your critical and substantial needs, and set out a number of outcomes to be met in order to address these needs. ‘Outcomes’ are things that you want to achieve to help you live your life the way you want to live it. They could include things like ‘I want to be clean and presentable everyday’. Based on these outcomes the social care team will then work out your ‘indicative budget’. You will also have an assessment by the Financial Assessment and Benefits (FAB) team who will see if you need to pay a contribution towards your care and support.
Stage Two: Wilts Council will refer you to Wiltshire CIL, who will help you to complete a Support Plan. This plan will be owned by you and will set out how you want to meet your outcomes in a way that suits you. This support plan will be submitted to Wiltshire Council for approval. Your DP will start when the support plan has been approved
Stage Three: Once your direct payment is in place Wiltshire CIL will contact you to make arrangements for employing staff or an agency. You will also be regularly reviewed by Wiltshire Council, to check whether your outcomes are being met and if new outcomes need to be added.
What else do I need to know?
You will be asked to open a separate bank account. Usually the Council will pay your direct payment to you, monthly in advance. You will have to provide records of how you have spent the money – we will give you some simple forms for this and you can have help with this if you need it. Direct payments are not counted as income and are not taken into account by either the Benefits Agency or Inland Revenue (HMRC).
Further help and information
Whatever your financial situation, Wiltshire Council social care customer advisors are there to help you to discuss your circumstances and consider the choices you can make.
For more information on Paying for residential or nursing care where you own your own property, please see our interim advice document here.
For additional information about the range of care services available in Wiltshire, please see the Wiltshire Care Services Directory available online at the Care Choices website.Find out more about employing a personal assistant