What are my responsibilities if I get direct payments?
Find out more about what you will need to do
Choosing to take a direct payment can mean you have far more choice, but it also comes with some additional responsibilities. Click on the questions below to find out more.
What responsibilities will I have if I choose to have direct payments?
You will need to think about the following but help is available from your Local Authority and many voluntary organisations. If you decide you want to take on a personal assistant, the rest of this website will tell you all about tax, national insurance, paying their wages and the employment law you will need to think about. You also need to think about keeping records and ensuring you report any changes in circumstances.
What if my circumstances change?
Your needs assessment should be reviewed each year to make sure your needs are still being met. However, if your situation changes and you feel you need more help or your condition improves so you need less help you should contact your Local Authority. Normally you will have a social worker who deals with your case who you can speak to.
What paperwork will I have to keep?
Because officially the money you receive as a direct payment is not yours, but money given to you to use for your assessed needs, your Local Authority will need to be certain that the money is being used as agreed with them in the assessment. This means you will need to keep records as your Local Authority may ask to see them. If the payments are not being used properly they may be stopped or withdrawn and you may have to pay some back.
Each Local Authority will have different requirements for what records you need to keep. Make sure you are clear about exactly what they will want to see and any support and help they can offer you.
Examples of documents you might need to keep are:
- Bank statements
- Cheque books
- Paying-in books
- Monthly payments advice slips from your Local Authority
- Receipts for all purchases
- Invoices from people or organisations who provide you with services
- If you employ a personal assistant (you can find out more about this in our paying wages section) employment records such as timesheets may be required
Can someone else help me with my direct payments?
Yes. Making decisions about your needs or drawing up a care plan does not have to be done on your own. Also, once you decide to accept direct payments, there is lots of support available to help you manage.
- You could ask a friend or family member to help.
- If you are already in touch with a voluntary organisation who understands your particular needs, they may be able to provide some help and support.
- Many disability organisations have information about direct payments on their websites, written for those with the particular disability they focus on.
- In many areas there will be a ‘user led organisation’. This is sometimes run by a group of direct payment users or a local voluntary organisation. You can find out your nearest one on the NHS website or ask your social worker if there is one in your area.
- There may be other independent support in the area that you live. You can ask your social worker for their contact details. Some professional support services charge direct payment users a fee. You should make sure that you understand any fees involved and that the money is included in your direct payment budget to pay their fee.
Can direct payments be given to someone who lacks mental capacity?
Direct payments can normally be offered to someone who lacks mental capacity if they have a friend, family member or advocate who the Local Authority agree is a suitable person to manage the payments.
An alternative is to make a special arrangement called a ‘user controlled trust’ (sometimes called an independent living trust). To do this you will need some legal advice from a solicitor. When a trust like this is set up, it means that the trustees (the people responsible for operating the trust) receive the direct payment and use it to meet the person’s care needs. Devon County Council has produced a useful guide on explaining more about how a trust might be used.