Guide to direct payments

1. What are direct payments?

Direct payments are an agreed amount of money that we give you so that you can arrange your own care. You can use this money to 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.

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.

People who use direct payments think they are great. Although it can mean a little extra work, recipients of direct payments say they would not want to go back to having their care and support organised by the council.

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, or
  • a disabled child

To be offered direct payments you first have to have a care and support needs assessment.

2. How can I use direct payments?

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

The main rule is that you must use them to meet eligible care and support needs and outcomes that 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 parts of your support plan, such as:

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

There is lots of help available for people who want to employ their own personal assistants which 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.

A good place to find support from trusted providers is to use our Support with Confidence scheme. All organisations listed in the 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. Read more:

3. 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; others can find it a bit harder. We use two organisations – People Plus and Vibrance – which can offer free support with doing the following:

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

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

People Plus and Vibrance can explain more about what they offer and what this costs and you can look at the next page of this guide, ‘managing the money’.


People Plus

Tel: 01323 414 674


Write: 3rd Floor, Ivy House, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4QT


Tel: 01273 025 687


Write: The Mallings Business Centre, 112 The Mallings, East Sussex BN7 2RG

4. Managing the money

We want to make using direct payments as simple as possible.

We offer several options for how you can have the direct payments paid to you and how you can make payments and record how you have used the money. Please see our fact sheet for more information:

5. Direct payments peer support group

The Direct Payments Peer Support Group meets once a month. It’s run by volunteers who are clients, carers and PAs, who receive direct payments either for themselves or on behalf of someone else.

It provides 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

When: 12pm to 2pm on the first Wednesday of each month

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

Join the group

If you’d like to join the support group contact:

Tel: 07547 563 014