What to expect from Adult Social Care

Direct payments

BSL Support

What are direct payments?

If you've had a social care assessment which has shown you are eligible for support with your care needs , you could choose to manage this yourself with a direct payment.

A direct payment means you will receive an agreed amount of money to arrange the support that you need, instead of the council arranging this for you. This gives you far more choice and control over the way you arrange your day-to-day help.

For example, you can use your direct payment flexibly and innovatively, allowing you to tailor your support around your care needs, in a way that suits you best.

You can choose who will help you and decide when and how they will do things for you but you must only spend your direct payment on meeting your eligible needs, as agreed and recorded in your support plan.

Many people use their direct payment to employ their own care worker, known as a Personal Assistant or a PA.  This could be someone you know, who understands your needs, who speaks your language, or shares your interests. We will support you to arrange this.

Alternatively, you can use your direct payment to arrange and pay for services through a care agency of your choice.

I like the independence Direct Payments give me. I feel much more in control and can make my own decisions about how my care is provided.  - Newham resident

How do I get a direct payment?

During the support planning process, we will talk to you about different ways you can spend your personal budget. This will include direct payments.

We will explain the benefits of a direct payment as well as the responsibilities you will have, so that you can make an informed choice.

If you decide to have a direct payment and it is agreed this a suitable method of meeting your needs, we will refer you to our Direct Payments Team. They will contact you to discuss your requirements with you in more detail and support you to make the necessary arrangements.

If your care is already arranged by us and you would like to start receiving direct payments instead, please call your adult social care team to discuss this on 020 8430 2000 and choose option 2 from the menu.

If you would like independent information about direct payments, please refer to our factsheet ‘Independent resources for direct payments’.

How will I receive my direct payments?

Your direct payment will be paid to you four-weekly in advance in to a pre-paid card account set up in your name. This will mean you have the money to pay for your care when you need it.

A pre-paid card account works in the same way as a regular debit card and you can use it to pay for goods or services up to the balance held on it.

You can set up direct debits, make payments over the phone, in-store or on-line and via BACS transfer. You can access your account on-line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Will I have to pay towards my support costs?

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.

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.

We have more information about financial assessments and paying towards the cost of your care:

Alternatively, you can ask your social worker for a copy of our leaflet.

What can I spend my direct payment money on?

Direct payments can be used to pay for anything that has been agreed in your support plan.

This could include;

  • support from a care agency of your choice
  • employing a Personal Assistant (PA) to help with personal care
  • support with daily living activities
  • short-term breaks away from home or respite care.

For me, having a Direct Payment means I can choose who provides my care and support. -  Newham resident

What can’t I spend my direct payment money on?

You cannot use the money to buy anything other than products or services agreed in your support plan.

Specifically, you cannot spend your direct payment on;

  • anything that is illegal
  • alcohol, tobacco, drugs or gambling (including bingo)
  • long-term or permanent residential care
  • to pay a close relative who lives with you as your PA, except in exceptional circumstances.

What support will I get to set-up my direct payment?

The council will provide you with practical assistance in planning your support. You can also arrange to get help from someone you know such as a relative or a trusted friend.

If you choose to employ a personal assistant, the direct payments team can provide you with information, advice and guidance around;

  • Recruitment
  • Using a payroll agency
  • Arranging employer’s liability insurance
  • Meeting your other obligations as an employer.

One of these has the contact details and web page links of a range of independent organisations, where you can access impartial information, advice and guidance, to help you decide if direct payments are right for you.

Another has the contact details and web page links of known payroll and insurance providers who specialise in direct payments, if you are wishing to employ personal assistants. 

There are also a number of web page links to Skills for Care, an independent charity who provides a wealth of information, resources and access to toolkits to help people using a direct payment.

If you employ a PA through your direct payment, you can access funding through Skills for Care to train you and your PA’s.

When I decided to have a Direct Payment I got plenty of support to set it up and it’s not difficult to manage. The benefits to me make it all worthwhile.  - Newham resident

What are your 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 your spending. We can ask to see these records from time to time.

It is important not to mix your personal finances with your direct payment because you need to keep separate records of how you spend your direct payment.

If you use a care agency, you need to make sure that they comply with current registration requirements. Our direct payments team will explain this to you.

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;

  • income tax
  • national insurance contributions
  • employer’s liability insurance
  • employer's pension contributions.

We will provide all the support you need to set up your direct payment and we will be in touch from time to time to make sure everything is running smoothly.

You can call our Direct Payments Team on 020 3373 4061 or contact the team by email at DPTeam@newham.gov.uk if you need a little extra help or support.

With my Direct Payment I choose and employ carers that are really suited to me. The paperwork is not too difficult either.  - Newham resident