Direct payments

If your social care assessment shows you have unmet eligible care and support needs we will work out how much it is likely to cost to pay for services and support to meet those needs. This is called a personal budget.

You decide how your personal budget will be spent. Your social care worker will work with you to help you choose and plan the care and support you need. One of your options is to take your personal budget as a direct payment (minus any assessed amount you may need to pay towards your care).

Advantages of a direct payment

A direct payment puts you in charge of your care and support, giving you more choice, control and flexibility.

You choose how your care and support needs will be met, how and when those services are provided, and how your services are managed.

A direct payment could allow you to:

  • employ your own personal assistant (PA) – you choose the person (or people) you want to support you, you decide what they help you with and the days and times they work
  • choose a care agency to provide the care and support you need and arrange the time of care visits to suit you (if we arrange and manage your care you will be restricted to agencies on our provider list and may have less flexibility around times)
  • be more creative and find alternative ways of meeting your care needs

Planning and arranging your support

We can advise and support you to:

  • choose and plan you care
  • find and make arrangements with suitable service providers or recruit a personal assistant
  • find services to manage payroll and/or HR support if you choose to employ a personal assistant

Paying your services providers

We usually set up a Reading Prepaid Card Account for you to use to pay for your services. You will have to set up a regular transfer from your own bank account to pay your weekly charge into this account. We will transfer our contribution towards your weekly care and support costs into this account.

Once the money is in your account you can use your card to pay for the care and support services in person, by phone, online or by Direct Debit or standing order.

There is no overdraft facility so you can’t get into debt.

We will monitor spending on your Reading Prepaid Card Account. You must keep invoices, receipts and time sheets for six years (for audit purposes).

Help with direct payments

You can ask a family member or friend to support you with your direct payment, or they could manage it for you.

If you change your mind

If you have problems managing your direct payment, contact your social care worker or personal budget support team. We will offer support to help you overcome your difficulties.

If you are still unhappy you can end your direct payment – in this case we will arrange and manage your care services for you.

If you decide against a direct payment now but change your mind later, please contact your social care worker.

Care and support costs

Social care services for children are free of charge.

Adult social care charges are not free – but you may be entitled to financial support to help you pay for your care and support. How much you get depends on your financial situation.

We offer a financial assessment to work out the most you could afford to pay towards your personal budget each week (this is your assessed maximum weekly charge) but you may not pay as much as this. How much you actually pay depends on the weekly cost of your care.

If you have savings and investments over the government’s upper capital limit, you won’t get any financial support from us and you won’t be eligible for a direct payment.

Applying for a direct payment

Just tell your social worker that you are interested in having a direct payment. They will guide you through the process.