Paying for social care using Direct Payments

If you or someone you care for get help from social services, you can apply for direct payments. These let you choose and buy the services you need yourself, instead of getting them from us.

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Who can get direct payments?

You can only get direct payments if you've been assessed by social services as needing care and support services. If you are eligible, the amount you get will depend on your personal financial circumstances.

We can make direct payments to:

  • disabled people aged 16 or over (with short or long-term needs)
  • carers aged 16 or over (including people with parental responsibility for a disabled child)
  • elderly people who need community care services

What can I use direct payments for?

You can pay for a range of services to meet your social care needs identified in your support plan. Services include:

  • personal assistants to help with daily tasks like appointments or social activities
  • home based care to help with tasks like bathing, dressing, feeding
  • short breaks
  • life skills and education sessions
  • community services like help with gardening or going to a day centre

You can search Connect to Support Surrey for services in your area.

What can't I use direct payments for?

You can't use direct payments to pay for:

  • residential or nursing home fees
  • medical services provided by the NHS. These include physiotherapy, medication calls, transport to hospital.
  • household bills, including gas, electricity, water, and Council Tax)
  • food and drink
  • any items or services associated with drugs, alcohol and the sex industry
  • paying family members who live in the same household as you, unless we agree in advance
  • if you employ a personal assistant, you can't pay them in cash

How to apply for direct payments

Once assessed as being eligible for care, tell your social worker if you want to receive a direct payment instead of us organising care for you.

You can get your direct payments:

  • through a prepaid account
  • paid into your bank account

You will be asked to sign an agreement that outlines any conditions you need to follow.

The prepaid account is easier to manage as you:

  • don't need to keep receipts and separate records of your spending (unless you pay by cash) and
  • you can nominate a trusted person to help you to manage the account if you need help with this

Apply for a prepaid account

Tell your social worker this is what you want.

We will set up a prepaid account for you to pay for services identified in your support plan.

We will pay the agreed amount into the account every month and you will get a debit card too.

How to pay for services with a prepaid account

You can pay for services:

  • in person using your debit card
  • by standing order or direct debit
  • by bank transfer, either online or by phone

You won't need to keep receipts unless you pay in cash.

How to check your account balance with a prepaid account

You can also check account balance:

  • online
  • by text message
  • by phone

You can also ask to receive a statement in the post.

Apply to receive direct payments into your bank account

Tell your social worker this is what you want.

You will need to set up a separate bank account for direct payments.

We will pay the agreed amount into your account every month.

You will need to keep records of what you spend your direct payment on. This could be a spreadsheet signed by personal assistants, or receipts for services from care agencies.

Monitoring your spending

We will monitor your spending on direct payments, usually every three months.

If you have a prepaid account, we can do this ourselves and you don't need to do anything.

If you receive direct payments into your account, you need to send us evidence of how you have spent your direct payment.

What if I don't spend all the money?

If you're not spending all the money, please talk to your social worker, and tell us if you are saving your direct payment for something specific, like respite care or an annual membership, for example

When we monitor your spending, we can reclaim money you have not spent (more than two weeks' worth of funding) if you don't need it.

What if I need more money?

If at any time you find that you have an unexpected care and support need to pay for, or you don't have enough funding in your direct payment account to cover your care and support needs, you should contact your social care worker. They will be able to discuss this with you and, where appropriate, will make extra payments into your account.

More information and advice

Surrey Independent Living Charity (SILC) can offer independent advice on:

  • managing direct payments
  • employing personal assistants
  • arranging support and services

Find out more at Surrey Independent Living Charity.

Direct payments for carers

You may be able to get direct payments as a carer if you have done a carers assessment and you are eligible to get help.

Direct payments aim to help you balance looking after your loved one and taking time out from your caring role.

Carers Assessment to see if you are eligible.

Direct payments to apply for direct payments and find out more.

Direct Payments Strategy

Read our Direct Payments Strategy for Children's and Adult Social Care 2023 to 2028

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