What are direct payments?
Direct payments, are payments that allow you to organise care services yourself, rather than the council arranging them for you. This can give you more choice, flexibility and control over the care you receive.
You can opt in and out of using a direct payment at any time.
Who can receive a direct payment?
To determine if you are entitled to receive a direct payment, we must complete an assessment with you to confirm whether you have eligible needs (whether you are eligible for help from the council). You have the right to an assessment no matter what your ability is to pay for the care you may need.
If you have eligible needs, we will draw up a support plan with you. It covers what you want to achieve and outlines the ways in which you want your needs to be met.
If you or someone you know need to have their needs assessed or have a general enquiry, please contact us.
If you have eligible care needs, we will assess your finances to determine what you will pay towards the cost of your direct payment; most people have to pay something. Find out more about paying for care.
How you can spend your direct payment
You can choose to use your direct payment to purchase a variety of care and support services as long as they help you to meet the outcomes set out in your support plan.
Some people use the money to buy care from an agency and others, to directly employ their own staff, for example by hiring a personal assistant. If you employ a personal assistant, there are certain rules and regulations you must comply with. Find more information about personal assistants.
The contract will be between you and the agency/person providing your care. This means you will be responsible for dealing directly with them and resolving any issues or disputes that arise
You cannot use a direct payment to pay for a permanent placement in a care home.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, you can't use the money to employ a close relative or person living in your home.
You must not use your direct payment to pay for anything illegal or to pay for items such as food, drinks, utilities, gifts or for other everyday items.
If you can’t account for everything you spend your direct payment on, or you use the money for items that are not in your agreed support plan, you could be asked to reimburse us.
The National Minimum Wage
If you decide to use your direct payment to directly employ your own staff you'll need to ensure you pay them at least the National Minimum Wage.
The calculation for the minimum wage is based on the full amount (gross) before any tax, National Insurance and other deductions have been taken off. You can find out more information about the National Minimum Wage and the rates you must pay at https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates or by calling the ACAS helpline.
You'll also need to make sure that the hourly rate you choose is affordable, based on your direct payment amount, and can be maintained in the long term.
Managing your direct payment
If you decide to receive a direct payment, you will be responsible for its administration. This includes:
- managing your direct payment account
- arranging care and support
- making sure your direct payment is spent in a way which meets your eligible needs and the outcomes set out in your support plan
- accounting for every payment you make
- ensuring that spending is within your budget
- managing invoices and timesheets where necessary
- provide the council evidence of your spending when required
You have a choice to manage your direct payment yourself or you can choose someone to do it on your behalf, such as a friend or relative. Alternatively, you may decide to use an organisation that specialises in managing direct payments such as Purple. You can find more at
You can find more detailed information in A guide to direct payments (pdf format, 236 Kb)