What are Direct Payments?
Direct Payments are a way of arranging your Care and Support services. The direct payments can give you more independence, flexibility and choice over how your services are arranged and provided.
Visit newcastle.gov.uk for more information and for an Easy Read leaflet for people with a learning disability.
Am I eligible for Direct Payments?
Direct Payments are available to people who have been assessed by Community Health & Social Care Direct as eligible for care and support from Newcastle City Council.
Newcastle City Council will allocate you a Personal Budget to pay for your care and support. You can choose to receive this as a Direct Payment either into a separate bank account of your own or for it to be paid into an account with a payroll agency. This allows you to buy and arrange care and support services that meet your eligible needs yourself, instead of the council arranging them for you.
What can Direct Payments be used for?
You will generally have more choice with choosing to receive your Personal Budget as a direct payment, because this will allow you to buy services that the Council sometimes cannot provide, as long as this is agreed in your support plan. These are some common ways that people use a direct payment:
- employing personal assistants to provide personal care at home and other support; this could be someone that you know already or someone who does not live in your household or someone recruited from an advertisement
- contracting with a care agency instead of having the Council do it for you
- buying community activities instead of going to a day centre
- short breaks where your carer has been assessed as eligible
Direct Payments cannot be used to:
- employ your partner or a close relative who lives in the same household as you (there are exceptions)
- pay for long-term residential care
- pay for health care or housing
- things that health services should provide like wheelchairs, medicines or pads for people who are incontinent
- treatment that health services should provide such as physiotherapy or chiropody
- things that the Council provides directly
- regular household expenses that everyone has such as gas, electricity, rent or food shopping
- alcohol, cigarettes or using it for gambling
- paying for a house clearance if a relative goes into residential or nursing care
- paying for general items of clothing
- equipment that could be classed as an offensive weapon. For example knives or guns. Anything else that is against the law!
- giving cash to other people for doing things for you . It is ok to buy things with cash as long as you get receipts and it has been agreed with the social worker.
How much will my Direct Payment be for?
Your Direct Payment depends on the outcome of your needs and Financial assessment.
The money can be paid directly into a bank or building society account or into an account with a payroll management agency, which must be set up specifically for your Direct Payments. If you have been assessed to make a financial contribution this will be paid into the same account.
You will have the following responsibilities for managing your Direct Payments. You must:
- use the money to pay for the services that have been agreed
- keep financial records of how the money has been used
- pay the money back if you cannot prove how you have spent it or have spent it in ways that were not agreed to
- follow employment law and fulfil obligations to staff
- have an insurance policy. It must include employer’s liability and provide clear legal advice on how to deal with employment problems.
- treat your personal assistants properly according to employment law
- pay their tax and National Insurance contributions (but you can get help to work these figures out)
- enrol them in a pension scheme
- be ready to deal with any recruitment and disciplinary issues
- plan for replacement support if your personal assistant is sick or leaves
Arranging Direct Payments
Anyone who has been assessed as having eligible care and support needs can ask for a Direct Payment. To discuss your care and support needs contact Community Health & Social Care Direct to begin the conversation.
There are several parts to the process:
- Needs conversation to identify your care and support needs and if you are eligible for support from Newcastle City Council
- Financial assessment to find out how much you will need to pay towards the cost of your care and support
If you are already receiving care from Newcastle City Council and would like to change to Direct Payments, you should contact your social worker, are manager or Community Health & Social Care Direct
Help with managing your Direct Payment
You could ask a family member or friend to help you manage your Direct Payment (see below).
Disability North provide a direct payment advice and support service on behalf of Newcastle City Council. Their Newcastle based team will offer you a personalised service to ensure you have choice and control over your care and support package.
- information about direct payments
- support to recruit and employ a personal assistant
- help to identify a suitable support provider (such as a care agency)
- help to identify community support which meets your outcomes
- support with planning for contingencies and emergencies
- access to peer support in local community settings across Newcastle
- advice on where to find training for personal assistants
You can have payroll support such as:
- standard payroll services that work out the wages and any deductions for you. They tell you how much and when to pay your Personal Assistants
- managed payroll services receive the money and handle financial transactions, including paying tax and National Insurance for your personal assistants
Support from the council
The council checks (audits) direct payments regularly. This means they can see if things are going wrong and help you to put it right.
Very rarely people can be vulnerable to abuse from personal assistants. If this happens you must report it . They take this seriously and will support you as much as they can. They will make a plan of how to deal with your concerns as employment law has to be followed in these situations.
Support from your relatives or friends
If you have problems with your memory or making decisions you can still have a direct payment. You will need someone to take responsibility for your direct payment and this must be agreed with the council. This is called having a “suitable person” who can act on your behalf. They sign up to a direct payment and take on all of the responsibilities.
The Council decides who is a “suitable person” if you are assessed as not having the mental capacity to make decisions about direct payments.
You can ask someone to help you as a “supporter” even if you do not have problems with making decisions. You are still responsible for your direct payment but can get help with some of the tasks involved from your named supporter.
Other useful information
- People Plus Group Limited also offer independent living advice and support
- Self-directed support: direct payments, personal budgets and individual budgets by Age UK
- Tourism for All UK offers information about accessible short and long stays, as well as holidays and equipment hire or escorts.
Last updated: September 14, 2023