How to apply for and manage a direct payment

You need to have a social care assessment to be eligible for a Direct Payment and you must be one of the following: 

  • Aged 18 or over and assessed as being eligible for care and support.
  • A carer
  • Have savings under the financial threshold (You can find more information on paying for care)

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Once you have been assessed as needing care and support services by your social worker, you can request a Direct Payment. A Direct Payment can give you choice and control over who delivers your care and support.

We use an assessment (under the Care Act 2014) to decide whether a person needs care and support to help them live their day-to-day life.

If you have eligible care and support needs, your social worker will discuss and plan how to arrange your support. If you choose to have a Direct Payment, it will be written and agreed in your support plan. This will set out the best way to meet your goals and how best to use the Direct Payment, for example, to get support from a care agency or a personal assistant. 

You can request an assessment from Adult Social Care by telephoning 0300 123 5010. 

The Council will confirm in writing whether a Direct Payment can be made and will tell you how much you are required to pay towards your care and the amount the Council will contribute as a Direct Payment.

You will need to sign a ‘Direct Payment Agreement’, which outlines the Council’s responsibilities to you when providing a Direct Payment and your responsibilities to the Council for managing public funds.

The amount of money your Direct Payment is set at will be suitable for you to buy services which meet your care needs. A Direct Payment will differ depending on the needs of each person.

It is likely that you will need to contribute towards your Direct Payment. How much you contribute will be determined by a financial assessment. The Council will make up the amount from your weekly contribution to meet your eligible care and support needs.

You must open a separate bank account in your name for this money to be paid into. We would expect this to only be used for your Direct Payment money and your weekly financial contribution towards your care and support. This is to avoid confusion with other money that you might have.

You must pay your financial contribution into the account and the Council will pay its share of the Direct Payment into your account every four weeks to make up the amount to the level needed to meet your needs. You will receive this payment four weeks in advance. You must pay for all care and invoices from the Direct Payment account.

We can give you advice on how to arrange having a bank account if you need it.

There are a number of things you are responsible for if you have a Direct Payment:

  • You must pay your weekly contribution as the initial payment and the Council will top this up to the appropriate amount to meet your needs.
  •  You need to arrange to buy the services that you have agreed with your social worker yourself – you can access support to do this and your social worker can advise you.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that the services that you buy are suitable for your needs and are within your allocated budget.
  • You need to inform the Council of any change in your circumstances
  • You need to keep records of your Direct Payment spending (see below).

You must allow the Council to see all your financial records to allow us to check that your Direct Payment is being used as agreed. This includes keeping receipts and bills. We have to do this because the Council has a responsibility to ensure that public money is spent properly.

We have created some simple forms to help you with your record keeping. Your social worker will give you copies. We can also advise you on how to fill them in. Checking of records will take place at 8 to 12 weeks from the start of the direct payment and then annually.

We could ask to see your information at other times as well.

A review of your care needs will take place every year. A social worker will check if your needs and outcomes are being met through the package of care you receive and that you are managing your Direct Payment without problems. If this is not the case, the services you receive might need to change. A check of your Direct Payment would usually take place at the same time.

There are a range of things which you can choose to spend your Direct Payment on as long as these are agreed within your support plan – some examples are.

  • You can employ a Personal Assistant
  • You can pay an agency that provides personal care or support
  • You can pay for a respite service which allows your informal carer to have a break
  • You can pay for day services which are not run by the Council.

You must agree with your social worker in your support plan what services you need. A Direct Payment cannot be used for purchasing illegal services or activities.

This section provides advice on what you need to do if you buy specific types of care. It also tells you where you can get further information.

Buying services from a Care Agency

If you choose to purchase your support through an agency then it is important to be aware that the contract and price is a private contract between you and that agency.

This means that if the care agency increases its prices in the future, the Council will not automatically be responsible for meeting this extra cost. It must ensure that there are services which are generally available in Cheshire East which will meet your social care needs.

Please be careful, therefore, to read the service provider’s Terms and Conditions about price increases before deciding who to buy from. Once in place they will send you an invoice for their service and arrange for your Direct Payment bank account to pay them.

If you wish to buy services from a care agency, we strongly recommend that you purchase care from a provider who is registered with Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC regulates and inspects the standards delivered by agencies nationally. 

Agencies who operate without being registered are committing a criminal offence if they sell certain types of services to people.

You will need to keep copies of invoices and bills as well as bank statements to share with the Council’s Finance Team when they do their finance check-up.

Employing a Personal Assistant (PA) 

You can use your Direct Payment to employ staff to help you such as a personal assistant. Before you do this, you need to carefully consider what support you want from them. This will need to fit in carefully with your assessed needs. You also need to be aware that if you do this, you will become an employer. This means you will have an employer’s legal responsibilities. 

You can find more information and advice about employing and recruiting a personal assistant Employing a Personal Assistant page and Finding a Personal Assistant page. 

Buying services from a Care Home

It is possible to use a Direct Payment to pay for short break services in a care home or respite centre. However, if the stay is more than four consecutive weeks in a year then a Direct Payment cannot be used for this purpose. You cannot use Direct Payments to pay for permanent residential care.

A self-funder is the term we give to someone who pays the full cost for their own care and support requirements. This may be because:  

  • You've chosen not to approach us for help with your care and support needs; or
  • You've been assessed by us, but you're not currently eligible for care and support services; or  
  • You've been assessed by us as being eligible for care and support services, but you have savings or assets above the self-funding threshold set by the government, which is currently £23,250. If you have £23,250 or over in capital, savings or assets you'll be expected to pay the full cost of your care and support services. You'll still be entitled to an assessment of your care needs, and information and advice on available services. 

Self-funders are entitled to an assessment of their needs and you’ll be given advice and signposting for any support and services you need. You would be liable for the full cost of any support needed. If you want to recruit and employ Personal Assistants privately, we recommend that you look at our Finding a Personal Assistant.

If you need any further help and support, you can contact PeoplePlus.

Getting help to set up a Direct Payment

Direct Payment Support Service (PeoplePlus)  

The Council has a Direct Payment Support Service run by PeoplePlus to support people with all aspects of setting up and managing a Direct Payment. They have advisers on hand to explain how it can be used, how to set up bank accounts and talk through employment responsibilities if you are looking at Personal Assistants (PAs).  

PeoplePlus Direct Payments team

Telephone: 0330 123 2815


Website: PeoplePlus MyLife - Cheshire East

Further information

Cheshire East Council

By Post: Cheshire East Council, Social Care Business Support and Finance, Delamere House, Delamere Street, Crewe, CW1 2LL

Telephone : 0300 123 5102



Further advice is available at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cheshire East. You could also contact your solicitor for independent advice. 

Choosing Care Services

There are many ways you can find out about services in your local area. One good way is to use the internet. Here are some examples of websites that can help.

  • Live Well directory is set up by the Council and other organisations which lists care services 

  • The Care Quality Commission is the Government organisation that regulates care providers. Their website includes details of all care services across the UK and you can also view their latest inspection reports 

Page last reviewed: 28 June 2024

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