Direct Payments

Although the Council can organise care services for you, it is also possible for you to do this yourself. This is called a ‘Direct Payment’.

What is a Direct Payment?

A Direct Payment is an amount of money which the Council may give you to meet your care needs.  You can spend this money on services that will help you with your everyday life.

Some examples of how you can use this are:

  • Employing a personal assistant or paying a care provider to help you look after yourself. This could mean having help with personal care or household tasks.
  • Paying for short break/respite care so that you or your carer can have a break from your normal routine
  • Using it for other care needs. This might include funding activities which improve your quality of life. Although your Care Manager must agree that these meet your needs.

Who can get Direct Payments?

Almost anyone who is eligible for care services from the Council can get a Direct Payment. However, your Care Manager will need to agree the care support that your Direct Payment can pay for.

What are the main advantages and disadvantages of a Direct Payment?
Having a Direct Payment means you have more choice over the services that you receive. It allows you to be creative and flexible, so that you use this money on services that you feel are right for you.

But it could also mean that you have to do more to receive your care. For instance, you may need to deal with tax and National Insurance if you have a Personal Assistant. You’ll also need to make sure you are insured in case they have an accident. However, there are organisations which can help you with this.

How do I get a Direct Payment?

To ask for a Direct Payment you just need to speak to your Care Manager. You can do this at any time, even if you have received care from the Council for many years. You might want to ask them what the advantages and disadvantages might be for you.

Once you say you wish to go ahead with having a Direct Payment, you will get a letter telling you whether it has been agreed that this is appropriate for you. The letter will also tell you how much the Direct Payment will be.

If you decide to use Direct Payments you will then need to sign a ‘Direct Payment Agreement’. This outlines the Council’s responsibilities to you when providing a Direct Payment and your responsibilities to the Council for managing this.

Personal Budgets

You may also hear the phrase ‘Personal Budget’ being used. This is the guide amount of money the Council sets for spending on a customer’s care needs. The individual can manage this money themselves as a Direct Payment or continue to allow the Council to manage their care.

Frequently asked Questions

How Much Money Will I Get?

The amount of money you will receive will be enough to buy the right services for your care needs. It is not possible to give a guide amount to this because a Direct Payment will differ depending on the circumstances of each person.

You will find out how much money you will need to pay when you have a ‘financial assessment’. The Council will pay any remaining amount.

Will the Benefits I Have Be Affected By a Direct Payment?

Having a Direct Payment will make no difference to the benefits you receive.

Can Someone Help Me Manage My Direct Payment?

If you don’t want the responsibility of managing a Direct Payment, you can hand this over to someone else such as a personal assistant or someone known as a ‘broker’.

If a person is unable to make decisions (for instance, because they have dementia) they can ask to receive their Direct Payment on their behalf so that you can organise their care.

If the Council feels that this is appropriate and would meet their needs then they can appoint you as a ‘Suitable Person’. As a Suitable Person you would receive the Direct Payment and agree to meet their care needs. However, there must be an agreement with the Council that you will manage things in their best interests.

It is often the case that people who do this also act as ‘Deputies’ or have power of attorney. This is where you have been given legal power to act on the person’s behalf.

What Can I Spend a Direct Payment On?

You can spend a Direct Payment on many things providing they meet your assessed care needs. This needs to be agreed with your Care Manager. The Council must check how customers are spending their Direct Payments every so often to ensure that this is the case.

What Can’t I Spend a Direct Payment On?

Direct Payments can be used for many things but there are some things which are not possible.

  • You can’t use a Direct Payment to pay for services from Cheshire East Council. However, you can choose to receive services from the Council and receive a smaller Direct Payment to spend on other services.
  • You can’t pay a close relative including a spouse or civil partner to provide care for you if they live at the same address (except in exceptional circumstances agreed by the Council).
  • You can’t use it to pay for permanent care in a care home.
  • You can’t use it to do anything illegal

Further Advice

Cheshire Centre for Independent Living
First Floor
Sension House
Denton Drive
Cheshire, CW9 7LU
Tel:  0845 340277
or 01606 331853
Web: Cheshire Centre for Independent Living website

Age UK Cheshire
314 Chester Road
Cheshire, CW8 2AB
Telephone: 0845 053 0280
Web: Age UK Cheshire website

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