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Direct Payments

Direct Payments can be available to anyone who has social care needs, including carers, to purchase care.

The Direct Payments scheme is a cash payment that the local authority will arrange and they can make payments into a bank account. The Council now offers a Pre Payment Card system where the Direct Payments Team will apply for a bank account on your behalf.

Direct Payments enable you to purchase services from care providers or employ your own support worker, known as a personal assistant (PA). You will then have more choice and control over how your support needs are met. Your support would be personalised to meet your requirements. However, taking on a PA turns you, as a Direct Payments holder, into an employer. This incurs all the legal, financial and practical issues that entails.

Additional information regarding Direct Payments can be found at: 

Who can get Direct Payments?

  • Parent and carers of disabled children.
  • People with:
    • Physical and/or sensory impairments.
    • Learning disabilities.
    • Mental health needs.

Benefits for employing a personal assistant directly

If you are using your Direct Payment to employ PAs you are their legal employer and have responsibilities towards them. This means you have to pay them on time for the work they have done. Ensure you have a contract of employment and a job description so you each know what is expected of them.

You are in control as you directly instruct your own staff (PAs) to carry out the tasks that you require assistance with. You have a say in choosing your PA who will offer you the help you need. It is very empowering for many disabled people, yet challenging. If you decide to employ a PA you will need to ensure you follow employment legislation. Your PA will have employment rights and you will have employment responsibilities.

Important note: All Personal Assistants working for a Child Direct Payment recipient must have a current enhanced DBS check.

Using care agencies

It may be hassle free to use care agencies. However, you will not have the same control over who is meeting your care and support. If you choose to engage a care agency then the whole of the Direct Payment is available to pay an agency to provide the service. Please be aware that an agency may charge more than your budget. In this instance you may have to accept fewer hours support or make up the difference personally.

You should have a written agreement with your care agency to say:

  • What their charges are.
  • What you might have to pay if you:
    • Need to cancel your care at short notice.
    • Go on holiday.
    • Go into hospital.

Auditing your Direct Payment bank account

We want to keep your Direct Payment as simple as possible. However, Direct Payments are public funds and the Council has to account for how these are spent. This will mean you need to keep any invoices or receipts for the things you have spent your Direct Payment on. You need to send these to the Direct Payments Team when they ask to see them.

Compliance monitoring

Once your Direct Payment scheme is up and running the Direct Payments Team will check annually that everything is working well.

Becoming a personal assistant

The Direct Payments Team holds a PA list. PAs can be added to this list.

If a PA is successful when interviewed the Direct Payment Team can assist with getting DBS checks and offering basic training courses.

Payroll and pension compliance is offered through a Payroll provider.

For more about this, please phone: 01422 393370.

Finding a personal assistant

You may prefer to employ someone who already knows your child well. Perhaps someone who supports them in school or a family friend. You can also employ a family member, but not one who lives at the same address.

If you are struggling to find someone, the Direct Payment Team holds a list of potential PAs.

For more about this, please phone: 01422 393370.

Training for personal assistants

Basic training is available for PAs through Inclusion Funding (formerly DCATCH) for those working with children.

For details about the Short Breaks Providers Learning and Development Programme email:

Does your child have a specific area of need that a PA needs specialist training for? You can ask for a contribution towards this cost. We may also agree to pay your PA at their usual hourly rate for the time they spend training.

For more about this, please phone: 01422 394091.

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