Direct payments give you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided.

If, after a care needs assessment, your council decides you need support, you will receive a personal budget. You can choose to receive your personal budget as a direct payment instead of letting the council arrange services for you.

The pros and cons of direct payments

Direct payments may suit you if:

  • you want to retain or take control of your own care and support services
  • you want more choice in selecting the products and services that meet your specific needs
  • you're confident with money and paperwork, or you have people to support you with this
  • you're happy to keep receipts and invoices, and to submit these to social services on time

Direct payments are probably not for you if:

  • you're uncomfortable about being an employer – you might need to manage the people who care for you, although help to make these arrangements is available
  • you're not confident about keeping careful records and safely filing important documents such as receipts, although help to make these arrangements is available
  • you have frequent or long periods in hospital
  • you're happy to let your local council provide you with care services

How direct payments work

Direct payments go straight into your bank, Post Office, building society or pre-paid card.

But you can't spend the money on just anything. The council must be satisfied the payments are going towards the care services agreed in your support plan.

Managing direct payments

You will be asked to sign a direct payment agreement, this will include information on:

  • keeping records and accounting for how you spend the money
  • the legal aspects of your role as an employer if you're using the money to pay for a care worker

Getting help managing direct payments

We can provide support with managing your direct payments.

Alternatively, many local voluntary organisations and social enterprises provide tailored support with managing your direct payments and putting together your care plan. These organisations are independent from the local authority.

  • Connect to support to find external organisations to help with budget management.
  • Disability Rights UK (formerly the National Centre for Independent Living) has a helpline, which offers advice about direct payments and employing a carer.

Policy and guidance