Personal budgets and direct payments

If you are paying for your own care and support, it is important that you receive good information and advice to help you make the most of your money, and to make appropriate choices about your future care and support arrangements.

About personal budgets

At the end of the assessment process we will tell you if you are eligible for care and support. If you are eligible for help from us, we will use the information you have given us during the assessment to work out roughly how much it will cost to support your needs. We will also let you know if we can help to contribute towards this support. If we can help to pay, we will agree an amount of money that is sufficient to meet your assessed care and support needs. We call this a personal budget.

We will then work with you to find out what things you want to change in your life and what you want to stay the same. You will also need to tell us how you will spend your personal budget to help make these things happen. We call this a care and support plan and we will always ensure it recognises your strengths and helps increase or maintain your independence where possible.

Deciding how much choice and control you want over your personal budget

If you are eligible for help from us, you will then be able to decide how you want to spend your personal budget and how much control you want to take over your care and support. It is important that you feel comfortable with how your support is managed.

There are a number of different options to choose from:

  • You can ask us to manage your personal budget and organise your support for you
  • You can ask us to give your personal budget to you in the form of a direct payment
  • You can ask us to give your personal budget to someone you trust or an organisation such as a direct payment support service
  • You can ask for a mixture of the above

About direct payments

A direct payment is a monetary payment to help you live independently in your own home. You can use the money to buy and arrange the care and support you need. Receiving a direct payment does not affect any other benefits you may already get. What you use your direct payment for will depend on your individual circumstances and the needs identified during your care and support assessment.

The money can help you look after yourself and manage everyday tasks to stay independent for longer and allows you to continue getting out and about and accessing work or learning opportunities.

As well as giving you greater control and independence, it is important to mention that there are certain responsibilities associated with a direct payment. The person receiving the direct payment, either directly, through a nominated person or third party, is accountable to the local authority for the way the money is spent. You also take on responsibility for managing your own care and support, which may involve legal responsibilities as an employer.

We will clearly explain the option of taking a direct payment to enable you to make an informed decision about the level of choice and control you wish to have. The process and method for calculating the direct payment will be both transparent and robust so that you have confidence in the process and the sufficiency of the amount allocated.

The Care Act 2014 put direct payments into law and makes best practice in person-centred care and support planning the norm for anyone with assessed eligible care and support needs.

How do you get a direct payment?

If you think you need support to live independently, you will need to contact the Adult Social Care team and ask for an assessment to find out if you are eligible for care and support. You will also need to complete a financial assessment to determine your contribution towards the cost of your care. The needs assessment will decide how much money you need to meet your eligible care and support needs as well as what support we can give you.

You will then write a Care and Support Plan. This will outline what you hope to achieve (your outcomes) and how you will use the money to get the help you need. We can help you do this, or you can ask a friend or family member for help.

You will need to sign a formal Direct Payment Agreement which outlines your responsibilities for spending the money you are given. We will also need to agree your plan with you before a direct payment can be set up.

If you have already had an assessment and are receiving services from us, you may be able to switch to a direct payment. For more information, please contact the Adult Social Care team:

Managing direct payments

We will offer you a prepaid card as a way of managing direct payments. Prepaid cards can be issued either in the person’s or a third party’s name. Having a prepaid card is the quickest way of setting up a direct payment and there are significant benefits for the person and the local authority in paying and managing direct payments in this way.

There may be instances when a prepaid card is deemed unsuitable, which may mean that the funds are not being managed appropriately and safely. If there is no other suitable person to manage the prepaid card on the person’s behalf, then a third party managed account may be a possible alternative.

What you can spend your direct payments on

You can use your direct payment to pay for the support that you need to meet your eligible care and support needs. The details will be set out in your care and support plan.

For example, you may want to:

  • Pay a care agency to support you with daily tasks
  • Employ your own personal assistant (PA)
  • Buy small pieces of equipment that will support your independence
  • Pay for a short break away from home to give your carer a break
  • Book an activity or class you enjoy, instead of going to a day centre.

The services you buy must meet the goals agreed in your care and support plan and they must be legal, affordable and safe.

What you cannot spend your direct payments on

There are restrictions to what direct payments can be used for.

For example, direct payments cannot be spent on:

  • Anything that does not help to meet the outcomes set out in the plan
  • Anything illegal, including paying people cash in hand
  • Household bills, clothes, food, paying off debt or anything not related to your care and support needs
  • Long term stays in care homes, excluding short stays such as respite
  • Anything that makes life worse for you or places you at intolerable risk

Find out about the benefits of using a direct payment.

Where to get help

Vibrance provide a range of information and advice about direct payments. They can also manage your direct payment for you and support you with recruitment and payroll if you decide to employ a personal assistant.

Contact details: