Direct payments


This factsheet explains what direct payments are and how you can use them.

April 2023 (FS10)

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What are direct payments?

Direct payments are when the money allocated for your support is paid direct to you, so that you can pay for the support you choose to meet your needs. It is the main way to receive all or part of a personal budget, where you want to have direct control of the money available to support you.

If you qualify for support from Adult Social Care, you could choose to buy this support yourself by having the money allocated for your support paid into a direct payment account. This way you can organise and buy the care and support that you need, instead of Adult Social Care organising and providing services for you.

This gives you more choice and control about how your needs are met. You choose who will help you, when they will help, and how they do things for you. You can use your budget flexibly, using support when you need it, not always in the same fixed pattern.

Who can get direct payments?

You can get direct payments if you are:

  • a client of adult social care (anyone 18 or over)
  • a carer of an adult
  • a disabled child

There are one or two exceptions to this, but we will explain in more detail if necessary.

To be offered direct payments you first have to have a social care needs assessment. This is where we look at what your needs are and whether you qualify for help from us.

If you do, we will work out the likely cost of your care and support and how much we can give you towards it.

You can choose to take some or all of the money allocated to you for your support as a direct payment.

What you choose will be written down in a document called a support plan. This plan shows how you have chosen to meet your eligible care and support needs and achieve the things that you want to do.

Do I have to pay towards my direct payment?

We will look at your total income and your savings (called a ‘financial assessment’) to work out the amount you need to pay towards the cost of your support. You can find out more about this in our leaflet: What you will need to pay towards the cost of your care and support.

If you decide to receive a direct payment, as soon as you are told what your contribution is, you will need to pay this towards your direct payment. You can pay this weekly or four weekly.

It is very important to pay your contribution towards your chosen direct payment account. This is to ensure there is enough money for you to pay for services to meet your needs.

How can I use direct payments?

Direct payments must be used to meet your eligible care and support needs and the outcomes written down in your support plan. If at any time you want to change how you meet your needs, you can always contact your social care worker to discuss this.

Most people spend their direct payments on employing a personal assistant or paying companies to provide home care support, but there are many ways you can use them.

Do direct payments mean extra work?

There is some extra work for you if you choose to take more direct control over the care and support you get.

If you choose to have a direct payment, you must develop a contingency plan to make sure you receive essential care and support in an emergency. To help you with this, East Sussex Adult Social Care has produced a contingency plan template. Your Adult Social Care worker can help you with this.

Independent Lives offer all kinds of help with direct payments. This includes support to be a good employer or to use direct payments to buy services from companies. They can help with recruiting staff, undertaking checks on possible personal assistants, writing job descriptions and understanding the rules that employers must follow. Support to be a good employer, or to use direct payments to buy agency services, is free.

Independent Lives

Phone: 01903 219 482 (option 3)


Suitable persons

If someone is unable to express their wishes or preferences about the support they receive, it is possible for their personal budget amount to be paid to a 'suitable person'.

This is a trusted person who will make decisions about how the direct payments are best used. This can be especially useful for people with severe learning disabilities, head injuries or dementia.

Before we make direct payments to a named suitable person, we must be very sure that the person getting the support is unable to express a wish to receive the direct payments themselves. We must also be completely sure that it would be in their best interests to have direct payments, and that the suitable person will always act properly.

For more information about making direct payments to a suitable person, speak to your social care worker, or contact Adult Social Care.

If you change your mind

You can decide at any time to stop receiving direct payments and to start receiving support from us in a different way. You should discuss this with your care manager first.

Making a complaint

If you want to make a complaint about Adult Social Care, you might want to use an independent advocate to help you understand the complaints process and put your views across effectively.

For more information about how to make a complaint, please read our leaflet: How to make a complaint or give feedback about Adult Social Care services.

More information

See further leaflets and factsheets

Contact us to get more copies of this factsheet, or any of the other leaflets or factsheets mentioned.

Email: Health and Social Care Connect
Phone: 0345 60 80 191
Minicom : 18001 0345 60 80 191

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