A male wheelchair user smiling with a woman

Direct payments

Every local authority can offer money instead of arranging services for those who are eligible. When a council gives someone money in this way it is known as a direct payment.

What are direct payments?

Direct payments are payments made to a disabled person (or a representative of their choosing) into a bank account or prepaid card. These payments are made in advance, usually every four weeks. They enable people to purchase and arrange their own support to meet their needs. The aim of direct payments is to give people more choice, greater flexibility and more control over the support they get.

People can use their direct payments to choose how to have their care provided. Many people choose a personal assistant (PA) as a solution to their care needs. Some choose to use a care agency.

Direct payments can be made to people of all ages. For children and young people under 16, payments are made to an adult who has parental responsibility.

You can get direct payments if:

  • you have been assessed as needing social care services to support you with daily living
  • you have a disability with social care needs
  • you consent to receiving a direct payment and either you or your representative can manage the payment

Will I have to make a contribution?

A financial assessment will be carried out by social services and you may be required to make a contribution to the cost of your care. Your contribution will normally be deducted from the direct payment but you will need to pay your client contribution into the direct payment bank account or prepaid card by standing order.

How much control will I have?

When you employ a personal assistant they can help you live independently and in a way that you choose. You can decide what you want them to do and when you want them to work. You will have full control over how your care is provided.

How to apply for direct payments

If you are interested in direct payments, speak to your local social services department to request an assessment. The social services representative should talk to you about a direct payment option when they carry out the assessment.

Before the assessment, it is a good idea for you to think about how much assistance you need. You could start to keep a record every day of what you find difficult and what you need assistance with. Work out how long you think a personal assistant would need to help you with each task. This will help in discussions with social services.

You can change your mind about receiving direct payments at any time. You can ask to have your direct payment reviewed if you feel that your needs have changed.