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Section 2 - How to spend direct payments

8. What can Direct Payments be used for?

Direct Payments can facilitate a wide range of well-being outcomes and promote independence and choice. They can be used to purchase support and assistance, including preventive and rehabilitative support, as identified in the individual assessment of need and agreed as well-being outcomes in the Care and Support Plan. Examples include:

  • Employing a Personal Assistant (PA) e.g. to provide support with daily living activities such as personal care, attending appointments and events
  • To access support from an accredited domiciliary care agency
  • Long term residential care
  • Purchasing short breaks in a care home or other agreed facility which will meet the respite need (see Respite Allocation Policy)
  • As a one-off payment for short-term interventions
  • Purchasing specialist lower cost equipment and adaptations (i.e. excluding Disabled Facilities Grants). Although in principle equipment is available via a Direct Payment, in practice it may be more cost effective for the Council to purchase this
  • Accessing daytime activities and support from providers

When completing a care and support plan, a person may choose which needs they would like to meet using Direct Payments and to have some of their needs met by commissioned services.

There may be a number of people who have similar support needs and would be interested in pooling some of their Direct Payments to organise joint activities or services. Pooling funding means taking some of your Direct Payments and adding it to funding from one or more people to purchase a service together. You may be able to get more for your money by sharing the cost of activities and have the opportunity to spend more time with other people.

9. Direct Payments cannot be used

  • For anything which puts the recipient or others at risk.
  • For gambling or anything illegal
  • To purchase services/items that do not meet the agreed outcomes in a person’s care and support plan
  • To pay a spouse or partner
  • To pay a close relative living in the same household unless there are exceptional circumstances as agreed by the Council
  • To fund existing informal family support
  • To pay someone else living in the same household as the Direct Payment recipient, unless it is specifically for the purpose of being a live-in Personal Assistant
  • To pay for personal or household expenses, such as personal loans, utility bills, household bills, rent or mortgage payments
  • To pay self-employed PAs
  • To purchase a service for someone who is no longer resident in the Council’s area other than by prior agreement in writing by the Council
  • By a carer to pay him/herself for care and support provided to the person they care for
  • To purchase services or equipment that would otherwise be the responsibility of other authorities to arrange, e.g. NHS or housing authorities (Direct Payments are not a substitute for Disabled Facilities Grants)

10. Paying Family Members

The person can use the Direct Payment to pay a family member who does not live with them to provide care and support. Under the Act, the Council has a duty to ensure that employing a family member is a suitable and safe use of the Direct Payment and that the support will meet the person’s needs. This will be discussed with the person as part of the assessment and support planning process.

The Council may authorise Direct Payments to pay a close relative living in the same household (close relative means parent, parent-in-law, aunt, uncle, grandparent, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepson or daughter, brother, sister or the spouse or partner, niece, nephew or grandchildren of any of the preceding). The Regulations state that this may happen where the Council deems it as necessary to meet the well-being outcomes of the person. Where the Council does not consider that it is necessary to promote a person’s well-being, it must impose a condition that the Direct Payment is not to be used to pay a relative living in the same household.

11. Safeguarding

Safeguarding concerns the protection of vulnerable people from situations that place them at risk of harm, neglect or exploitation. Safety in transactions and all other areas of Direct Payments is crucial and assessing the risk factors associated with them is essential. The Council’s policy and procedures on Safeguarding must be followed.

The nominated Suitable Person managing the Direct Payment shall ensure that, when employing anyone who will provide unsupervised support to young children or a vulnerable adult, they conduct the enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check to ensure that the person has no relevant criminal convictions that would preclude them from working with children or vulnerable people. This has to be completed and the DBS clear before they commence employment. The adult, carer, young carer, parent of a disabled child, suitable person or organisation must share information with the Council when there are concerns about information on the DBS check which could result in a risk to the adult or child by contacting the Direct Payments Team. Any unclear DBS checks will have to be risk assessed before employment can commence.

If the Suitable Person mismanages the Direct Payment, the Council will investigate how this has happened. Financial abuse will be considered a safeguarding concern.