Direct payments – what are they?

Direct payments allow you to receive cash payments from your local authority instead of care services. Direct payments were introduced to give people much more flexibility and greater control of their support package and to help people live more independently.

Who can receive direct payments?

Direct payments can be given to help buy services for adult, children and carers.

How do I get a direct payment?

To get a direct payment you firstly need to have an assessment from the local council. The assessment and the process will differ depending on if you are a carer or the person being looked after.

If you, or the person you are looking after, are assessed as needing support, then the local council will work out how much it would cost to provide such support.

How much will the direct payment be?

The direct payment must be an amount sufficient to meet the needs the local council have assessed you or the person you are looking after as having.  However, you, or the person you are caring for, might have to make a contribution towards the cost of meeting those needs

What can I spend the direct payment on?

The direct payment must be used to meet the needs the local council assessed you, or the person you are looking, after as having.

Example: If the person you are looking after is assessed as needing ‘a personal assistant for an hour a day’ they could ask for a direct payment to meet this need and could use the direct payment to employ someone of their choice to support them for one hour a day

Will getting a direct payment affect any benefits that I or the person I am looking after receives?

Direct payments that you are given as a carer, or to the person you are looking after, to purchase services to meet your needs as a carer are not counted as ‘income’ for any benefits you, or they, receive, and so would not affect any of your or their benefits.

If the person I am looking after gets a direct payment can they use this to employ a family member?

If the person you are looking after gets a direct payment to employ a personal assistant they might want to employ someone they already know to provide the support, such as a family member.

In Wales the rules are that:

  • The person you are looking after can use the direct payment to pay a family member who lives with them to provide them with care and/or management support, but only if the local council is satisfied that this is the best way of promoting and delivering their outcomes.
  • The person you are looking after can use the direct payment to pay a family member who does not live with them to provide them with care and/or management support (as long as the local council agree that this family member will meet their needs).

Employing a care worker directly

If the person you are looking after employs a personal assistant (even if this is a family member or friend), then they will be taking on the responsibilities of an employer.

This can seem daunting, however, there is an organisation which can help with these responsibilities. In Powys this is People Plus Independent Living Service who can be contacted on Tel. 0330 1232815, email ilspowys@peopleplus.co.uk or via their website.