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Direct payments: part one

Information for people with social care needs

We can make direct payments to someone who:
• is aged 16 or over and entitled to a community care service;
• has parental responsibility for a disabled child under 16 who is entitled to a community care service;
• is a carer aged 16 or over if an assessment has decided they are entitled to carer’s support; or
• has been appointed as an ‘authorised person’ to receive and manage direct payments on behalf of someone who does not have the mental capacity to agree to receive direct payments (see below).

The person we pay direct payments to must be:
• willing to receive the direct payments; and
• able to manage the direct payments, either on their own or with someone else’s help.

If necessary, a social care or health worker may carry out an assessment under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to find out whether you are able to make decisions about whether to receive and manage direct payments (whether you have the mental capacity needed for this).

Direct payments are now available to most groups of people who are eligible for social care support. However, there are some people who cannot receive direct payments because of certain legal conditions or requirements. We can tell you whether or not this applies to you.

The direct payments agreement

If you are ready to have direct payments, we will discuss our direct payments agreement with you. This includes the conditions and arrangements for having direct payments. You (or your ‘authorised person’) and your social care worker must sign the direct payments agreement.

Receiving direct payments

We load your personal budget onto a prepaid card and you use the money to pay for support to meet your care needs.

You can also use the prepaid card account to make payments over the internet or phone, and to set up direct debits and standing orders to pay for services.

If you feel that you may not be able to manage a prepaid card account and you would like to discuss another way to receive your direct payments, speak to your social care worker. They will be able to give you advice and explain your options.

Spending direct payments

You must use your direct payments to pay for your social care support and to achieve what is in your care and support plan. You must not use them to pay for anything else.

You can pay a proportion of your direct payments to a family member who lives in the same household as you to help you manage your personal budget and spend the money on your care.

You cannot spend your direct payments while you are outside the UK for more than four weeks in a year unless we agree to this in writing. You must not spend your direct payment on anything illegal.

We do not give a list of what you can spend your direct payments on as that would go against the principles of self-directed support, which offers people choice and control over how their social care needs are met. If you spend your direct payments on things that are not covered by your care and support plan, we may ask you to pay that money back.

Last updated: 01 December 2023