Direct payments are payments from the local councilfor people who have been assessed as needing help from social services, and who would like to arrange and pay for their own care and support services. These payments are made directly to the disabled person (or to someone acting on their behalf), to arrange their own care package.
Anyone who is assessed as needing care services has the right to request a direct payment instead of having those services provided by their council. There are limited circumstances when direct payments are not awarded, however the majority of those already receiving, or those assessed as needing, social services have a right to direct payments. These include:
- older people who have been assessed as needing community care services
- disabled people aged 16 and over, including those with short as well as long term needs
- carers, in place of receiving carers’ services
- families with disabled children
- disabled parents.
Direct payments are given to buy services (including equipment) that the disabled person has been assessed as needing. Social services teams set out what the money can and cannot be used for. Some people use direct payments to employ careworkers for personal care, others prefer to get help with domestic work like cleaning and laundry.
Although direct payments are designed to support independent living, and cannot be used to pay for permanent residential accommodation, disabled people may be able to use the money to pay for short breaks ie respite care. Councils may also agree to allow users to combine support, so that some needs can be met by social services, and others can be met through direct payments.
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