Guide to direct payments

Coronavirus information for people receiving direct payments

Visit our Coronavirus – direct payments page for guidance on:

  • setting up contingency plans
  • how to order free personal protective equipment (PPE)

1. Overview


What are direct payments?

Direct payments are an agreed amount of money that we give you so that you can organise and buy the care and support you need – instead of us doing this for you.

We always offer direct payments to you as a way of providing your care and support. You do not have to use them unless you want to, the choice is yours.

Direct payments are not seen as income and have no effect on tax or benefits. They are just one way of receiving support from social care.

Who can get direct payments?

You can get direct payments if you are:

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

You need to have a social care assessment to be offered direct payments.

What are the benefits of direct payments?

The biggest advantage of direct payments is the choice and control it gives you over your own care. You can employ the person or agency of your choice, pick which hours suit you and decide what tasks you want carried out.


How you can spend direct payments

There are a few specific rules around how you can spend direct payments.

The main rule is that you must use them to meet your eligible care and support needs. These will be agreed in advance as part of your support plan.

Employing personal assistants

Some people choose to use direct payments to employ their own staff called personal assistants. Personal assistants can help you with:

  • personal care, such as washing and dressing
  • household tasks, such as cleaning and tidying
  • activities outside your home (taking you to appointments and events)

There is lots of help available for people who want to employ their own personal assistants. This is explained on the next page of this guide.

Buying support from companies

Many companies and voluntary organisations provide services such as home care, respite care or day care.

You can use our Support with Confidence scheme to find trusted providers. All organisations listed in this directory have been approved by Adult Social Care and Trading Standards.

Respite and short breaks

Some people choose to use direct payments as the simplest way to arrange short breaks or respite care.

What else can direct payments be used for?

Anything that meets your needs and has been agreed in your support plan can potentially be bought using direct payments. This might include items of equipment or non-traditional services. You can discuss the different options with  your social care worker.

Find out more in our factsheet:

How direct payments will be paid to you

We offer several options for how direct payments can be paid to you. These each offer different ways you can make payments and record how you have used the money.

Please see our factsheet for more information:


Help with direct payments

Choosing direct payments can mean a little extra work for you in arranging your own support. Some people find this easy and others can find it a bit harder.

We use two organisations called People Plus and Independent Lives which offer free support with employing your own staff.

This includes:

  • understanding the rules that employers must follow, such as employment law, insurance, tax and national insurance
  • writing job descriptions
  • recruiting staff
  • performing checks on possible personal assistants
  • ongoing support with being an employer

People Plus and Independent Lives also offer services you can choose to buy. They both offer a payroll service which calculates how much you need to pay your personal assistants each month and what you must pay in tax.

When clients choose to employ their own staff, we always include an amount to cover payroll costs as almost everyone wants some help with this.

Contact details

Find out more about what they offer and how much this costs:

People Plus

Phone: 01323 414 674

Email: ilseastsussex@peopleplus.co.uk

Website: People Plus

Independent Lives

Phone: 01903 219 482 (option 3)

Email: advice@independentlives.org

Website: Independent Lives


Join a direct payments support group

Independent Living East Sussex is a support group which meets once a month. It is run by volunteers who are clients, carers and personal assistants and receive direct payments themselves or on behalf of someone else.

It's a forum where you can share your experiences of receiving direct payments, get support from people who understand your situation and find solutions to any problems you are having. Often guest speakers will also come along to give presentations about relevant topics.

Where and when

From 12pm to 2pm on the first Wednesday of each month

SEAP office
7th floor, Cavendish House
Breeds Place
Hastings TN34 3AA

Join the group

If you would like to join the support group, contact:

Phone: 07547 563 014
Email: hello@ilesonline.org.uk