What are direct payments?
If you are eligible for support from Newham Adult Social Care you could choose to manage this yourself with direct payments.
This means you get an agreed amount of money to organise the support that you need instead of the council arranging services for you.
This gives you far more choice and control in the way you arrange your day to day help. For example, you can choose who will help you and decide when and how they will do things for you. You may prefer to choose someone who understands your needs, who speaks your language, or shares your interests and employ them as your regular care worker.
How do I get Direct Payments?
First, we will assess your needs to determine whether you are eligible for care and support and look at what you may need help with.
A period of enablement maybe offered to you to help maximise your independence. This is about learning or re-learning to do everyday tasks in your own home.
If enablement is undertaken then any remaining care needs will be assessed and we will work out how much support is required, plus the likely cost.
Next, we will work with you and anyone else that you chose to support you - such as your relatives, friends or an advocate - to identify how you want your support arranged.
A sum of money is calculated for the support called a personal budget and will be used to meet your assessed needs.
As part of the support planning process we will talk about different ways you can spend your personal budget. This will include direct payments.
If it is decided that direct payments are a suitable method of meeting your needs, we will refer you to the Direct Payments Team. They will contact you to discuss arrangements in more detail.
If you already receive care and support from us and would like to start receiving direct payments, you can arrange this by contacting the Access to Social Care Team.
How will I receive my direct payments?
Your Direct Payments will be issued to you via a pre-paid card account.
- You can use your pre-paid card account to purchase goods and services to meet the needs set out in your support plan.
- The pre-paid card is MasterCard enabled, which means you can use it anywhere that accepts MasterCard
- It is similar to a debit card, so you can use it to pay for goods and services up to the value that is loaded onto it
- You can make BACS transfers free of charge to other bank accounts online
- You can make payments over the telephone and set up direct debits
- Check the balance of your account online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Check the balance by phone
- Contact Newham Council if you would like a statement posted to you.
Will I have to pay towards my support?
There is no difference between how we work out what you might have to pay whether you choose direct payments or another way of receiving support from the council.
You will have a financial assessment and this will determine if you have to contribute towards your care and support.
We will look at your total income and your savings and then work out the amount that you might have to pay.
If you have been asked to pay a contribution towards the cost of your care you must pay this into the pre-paid card account.
What can I spend my direct payments money on?
Direct Payments can be used to pay for anything that has been identified and agreed in your support plan such as:
- Support from a care agency of your choice
- Employing a personal assistant to help with personal care
- Support with daily living activities
- Short-term breaks away from home or respite care.
What can’t I spend my direct payments on?
You cannot use the money to buy anything other than products or services to meet your care and support needs, including:
- Anything that is illegal
- Alcohol, tobacco, drugs or gambling (including bingo)
- Long-term or permanent residential care
- Pay a close relative who lives with you, except in exceptional circumstances.
What support can I get?
The council provides practical assistance with planning your support. You can also arrange to get help from someone you know such as a relative or a friend.
If you need to employ a personal assistant the Direct Payments Team can provide you with information, advice and guidance around:
- Using a payroll agency
- Arranging employer’s liability insurance
- Meeting your other obligations as an employer
What are the responsibilities?
You will have to show that you are using the money to meet your assessed needs and keep records such as receipts, invoices and any other documents related to spending.
We can ask to see these records on a regular basis. It is important not to mix your personal finances with Direct Payments because you need to keep separate records of how you spend the direct payments.
If you use a home care agency you need to make sure that they comply with current registration requirements.
If you decide to employ your own personal assistant, you will need to be fully aware of your responsibilities as an employer:
These responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- National Insurance
- Employer’s liability insurance
- Employer's pension income.