What are Direct Payments?
Direct Payments are cash payments to an individual from a local authority that are an alternative to directly arranged community care services. Rather than the local authority social services department providing or arranging the community care services it has assessed you as needing, you receive money to enable you to arrange your own services, allowing you more choice and control over the way your care and support needs are met.
Direct Payments can be made to people who are eligible to receive support from Social Services, allowing them to arrange their own care by directly employing a personal assistant or contracting with an independent agency.
The payments are available to disabled adults and children, and can be made to people with physical or sensory impairments, learning difficulties or mental ill health. They are also available to non-disabled people who have caring responsibilities, allowing them to continue with their role of looking after a disabled adult or child. Older people who need support to continue living in their own home may also be eligible to receive Direct Payments.
Direct Payments give people the power to make their own care or support arrangements, putting the service user in control and offering much greater flexibility by allowing individuals to make arrangements that suit their lifestyles.
Direct Payments can now also be made to ‘suitable people’ assessed by the local authority as being able to receive a Direct Payment on behalf of someone without the capacity to agree to receive a payment. A ‘suitable person’ will usually automatically be someone who has the power to make welfare and health decisions granted by a Lasting Power of Attorney, or having been appointed by the Court of Protection. Such a person has to agree to become a ‘suitable person’.
Otherwise, the local authority can agree that someone else can become a ‘suitable person’ who is best placed to promote the interests, wishes, and beliefs of the person without capacity. There is a process of assessment to be followed in all cases.
The ‘suitable person’ will be required to sign the local authority’s ‘Terms and Conditions' agreement in order to receive a Direct Payment.
You may be given conflicting information on what and how direct payments are to be used. Seek advice if you feel that you are being treated unfairly since many families have different experiences and decisions that you feel are unfair may be open to challenge!