Direct payments

Overview

We will assess whether you need care and support. If we find you do and you need financial help to pay for the care and support, we will give a certain amount of money to you. We call this your Personal Budget. If you’re over 18, you may have to put some money towards your Personal Budget as well. We call the money you put in your ‘assessed contribution’. The amount will depend on your income and savings. We work out the amount you need to contribute by doing a financial assessment.

Once you have your Personal Budget, you can decide on how to organise your care and support. We can organise it or you can. If you want to make the arrangements, we put our part of the Personal Budget straight into a new bank account. This is a Direct Payment (DP). You then add your part of the budget to the bank account.

You can use your DP to hire a Personal Assistant (PA) yourself or pay an agency to provide your care and support.

Who can have a Direct Payment?

In most cases you can have a Direct Payment if:

  • you have eligible, unmet care and support needs
  • the amount your care and support would cost is more than the amount of money you would need to put towards your care
  • you can manage your Direct Payments yourself (or with support) or an ‘authorised person’ can manage them on your behalf

Benefits of a Direct Payment

  • A Direct Payment puts you in charge of your care and support. It gives you more choice, control and flexibility.
  • You choose how to meet your care and support needs, and you choose how and when you get the care and support.
  • You don’t have to contact us to rearrange dates or times of care.
  • You can bank unused hours if you need more support at a specific time (for example, after a hospital stay)

How to get a Direct Payment

If you already get care and support services from us

Contact your social care co-ordinator or social worker. They will discuss with you what support you will need to set up and manage Direct Payments. You should contact us on 0118 937 3747 if you don’t have an allocated worker or are not sure who it is.

If you do not already receive care and support services from us

You will have an assessment with a social care co-ordinator or social worker. They will help you to work out what support and care you need, and whether you meet the criteria for help from us. You can request an assessment by contacting us on 0118 937 3747.

Information you will have to give to apply for Direct Payments

You will have to give:

  • proof of your identity (such as your passport or driving licence)
  • proof of your address (such as a recent utility bill)
  • proof of your National Insurance (NI) number

How to pay for support using your pre-paid account

We usually set up a pre-paid account for you to use to pay for your services. You will have to set up a regular transfer from your own bank account into the pre-paid account to pay your part. We will transfer our contribution towards your care costs into this account too. We pay our contribution every four weeks.

Once the money is in your pre-paid account, you can use the account to make payments for your care. The account is like a normal bank account. You can make payments by:

  • phone (if your provider accepts this method of payment)
  • online
  • Direct Debit
  • standing order

You can also use the account to make payments to your care provider if they accept card payments.

There is no overdraft facility so you cannot get into debt.

We check your spending from the account to help make sure you’re getting the care and support you need.

You must keep all invoices, receipts and time sheets for six years (for audit purposes).

Help with Direct Payment

Nominated person

If you feel you would like help in managing your Direct Payments, you can choose a nominated person to help you. The nominated person can assist you in either or both of the following ways:

  • they could act on your behalf to receive Direct Payments
  • they could take on the employment responsibility

The nominated person cannot also be your Personal Assistant (PA).

Suitable person

We will appoint a ‘suitable person’ if the care receiver is not able to make their own decisions. The suitable person will receive and manage the Direct Payment for them.

The suitable person will sign the Personal Budget Agreement . This sets out the terms of the Direct Payments.

Managed bank account

You can have a managed bank account if you wouldn’t feel confident using a pre-paid account. This means that a company makes the payments from your account on your behalf.

If you use agency support the agency can send invoices straight to the company. If you have a Personal Assistant (PA) you will need to email, call or text the company with the hours your Personal Assistant (PA) has worked. Your payroll provider will then make these payments for you.

You must keep all invoices, receipts and timesheets for six years (for audit purposes).

The PA Team

The Personal Assistant Team can give you information on how to:

  • find a PA
  • employ a PA

More information on support available when hiring PAs

What Direct Payments can pay for

You can spend your Direct Payments on activities or care that meet the goals agreed in your Care and Support Plan. The activities or care must be safe and legal..

You can request a copy of your Care and Support Plan if you are not sure of the details. Your social care co-ordinator or social worker will send a copy to you. You can contact us on 0118 937 3747 if you don’t have an allocated worker or are not sure who it is.

What Direct Payments can’t pay for

You cannot spend Direct Payments on any of the following:

  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • illegal activities (including employing people outside of the law)
  • ‘cash in hand’ payments
  • gambling
  • securing services from a family member, partner, friend or anyone living with you (unless agreed with us in writing).
  • food for yourself
  • items that will bring us into disrepute
  • items that another source should fund (for example Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG))
  • paying your assessed contribution to social care
  • day-to-day requirements, for example household bills
  • items that seem to benefit other family members rather than you
  • things not in the agreed Care and Support Plan
  • long-term care home placements (you can pay for a short stay if it does not exceed four consecutive weeks in 12 months)
  • Local authority provided services

Surplus or insufficient funds in your account

The Direct Payments Monitoring Team (DPMT) will keep an eye on your pre-paid account.

If you have a large surplus of funds, they will contact you to talk about taking back some of these funds. They will contact your social care co-ordinator, social worker or duty team if your funds are too low. Your allocated worker will contact you to find out why this is happening.

You can ask for a review of your Care and Support Plan if you feel your Personal Budget needs changing. You should contact your social care co-ordinator, social worker or the duty team to do this on 0118 937 3747.

Hospital stays

If you have a stay in hospital you can bank or save up hours. You can use them to have more care when you come out of hospital if you need to.

If you have a PA, they will continue to get their payments whilst you are in hospital, if agreed in your contract. If your PA is self-employed you can arrange to bank some of your hours until you come out of hospital.

Annual uplifts

There is no automatic annual uplifting of DP amounts. DP users are free to choose and change care providers whenever they want to. This means we have no way of knowing at any one moment who is with which provider.

If an RBC Framework provider informs a DP user that their rate has increased, they can contact the Personal Budget Support Team.
Personal.BudgetSupportTeam@reading.gov.uk
We can make arrangements to increase the DP in line with a new rate.