Paying for care using Direct Payments

Page contents:

What are direct payments?

Direct Payments are monetary payments made to individuals, who ask to receive one, to meet some or all of their eligible care and support needs.

Who can have direct payments?

Do you have a support or care plan? Are you eligible to receive social care support? If so, rather than the council arranging your services, you could arrange your services yourself, through Direct Payments. The law relating to Direct Payments for adults is covered by the Care Act 2014. Direct Payments can be made to both people you have care and support needs and to carers.

The Care Act says that a person must be given a Direct Payment if:

  • They have been assessed as having eligible care and support needs and have requested a Direct Payment
  • They have capacity to make the request, and where there is a nominated person, that person agrees to receive the payments
  • The local authority is satisfied the adult or nominated person can manage a Direct Payment and that the Direct Payment is an appropriate way to meet needs

If a person lack the capacity to request a Direct Payment, an 'authorised person' can request the Direct Payment on the person's behalf as long as certain conditions are met.

Who cannot have direct payments?

A small number of people may not be eligible to receive a Direct Payment. For example, people who are subject to a drug rehabilitation order.

How direct payments can help you?

Direct Payments can give you more flexibility and choice, by making it possible for support to be tailored around your individual needs.

Direct Payments ensure that you are part of the decision making about how your support needs will be met, by whom and at what time. You will be given the opportunity to employ your own support staff, which means they will be accountable to you rather than Surrey County Council.

Why would you want direct payments?

Direct Payments allow people to make more of the decisions that affect their life. They give more flexibility and choice, by enabling support to be more tailored around individual needs.

If a Direct Payment is the best way to meet the care and support needs identified in your support plan, there is more individual decision making about how those needs will be met, by whom and at what time. You are at the centre of the process, and have more control. A Direct Payment also gives you the opportunity to employ your own support staff.

Direct Payments in Surrey are now easier to manage with the introduction of the Pre Paid Account.

What to do if you are interested in direct payments

If you are interested in Direct Payments and are not currently receiving social care support from us, please contact Adult Social Care for more information or read about how social care can help.

You can also try our quick and easy-to use online checklist to get an indication of whether you are likely to qualify for social care support. As well as providing you with information on the support you could access locally, the checklist will also tell you if it might be worth spending time to do a full support needs assessment.

If you are interested in Direct Payments and are currently receiving social care support from us, please contact your care coordinator, social care practitioner or social worker for more information.

There are also independent organisations that offer information and support in relation to your Direct Payment. Surrey Independent Living Council (SILC) can help provide peer support on direct payments.

Managing a direct payment using a pre- paid account

If you receive a Direct Payment you will be responsible for managing and accounting for the money. The money can only be used to pay for support or services to meet assessed social care needs. For this reason, records will need to be kept which will help to ensure that the Direct Payment is working well.

In Surrey we have made it easier for people to manage their Direct Payment by offering a 'Pre Paid Account'. It is just like a current account from your bank and you can use it to pay for services that meet the needs and outcomes identified in your support plan. You do not need to open a separate bank account. You do not need to send reconciliation forms or receipts to the Council, as this will be done on-line. You can also nominate a trusted person to help run the account with you.

A third party can also receive a Direct Payment on your behalf through a Pre Paid Account.

Surrey Adult Social Care will make payments, monthly in advance, straight into the Pre Paid Account and there will be a debit card that comes with it. It does not come with a chequebook.

You can use the account to pay for things either:

  • In person using chip and pin
  • By standing order or direct debit
  • By bank transfer over the internet or by telephone.

You can also check account balances online, by text message or over the telephone. Paper statements are also available.

You won't need to keep receipts for the things that you pay for unless you pay for them in cash.

Direct Payments help ensure you hold the right amount of money to meet your eligible needs. This avoids the need for additional payment if there is insufficient funding and large surplus funds accumulating in your account. We will talk with you about deducting any surplus which might build up and to ensure your eligible needs are being met.

For all Direct Payments an agreement needs to be signed between Surrey County Council and the person receiving the money. The agreement outlines the conditions that need to be followed. For example, money can only be spent to achieve the agreed social care outcomes.

Will you have to make a financial contribution towards your direct payments?

You may be asked to contribute towards your social care support. Any charge that you may have to pay will be based on your personal financial circumstances. Direct Payments are made 'net' of any assessed contribution you may have to make. This means that any assessed contribution you may have will be deducted from the Direct Payment before it is given to you. Carers are not charged for services.

Carers and direct payments

Carers may be able to receive Direct Payments to support them in their caring role following a carer's assessment. This is a chance for you to talk about the care and support you provide and to find out if you're eligible for support.

Direct Payments enable a carer to choose and plan their support in more flexible ways that fit with their life. The aim is to help you continue to care for as long as you are willing and able and to balance your own needs between caring and your life away from your caring role.

Direct Payments for carers work in the same way as those for people who use services. Most Direct Payments are made to meet regular ongoing needs. However they can also be made as a single payment, for example to take a short respite break.