Direct Payments for care and support

Direct Payments for care and support

What are direct payments?

Direct payments are made to people who have been assessed as needing Council-funded care and support. This is an agreed amount of money that can be used to meet your social care needs. 

You need a Care and Support Assessment to find out if you can get funded support.

Instead of the Council arranging services for you, we pay money into a bank account for you to buy the support you need in the way that you prefer.   This money is also known as your personal budget.

You can receive your Personal Budget as a direct payment, or you can ask the Council to arrange support on your behalf. 

Direct payments work very well for a lot of people in Newcastle and there is support available to help you.  Direct payments can give you more control and flexibility over how you get your support.  

Quick guide to Direct Payments from Newcastle City Council

What can I use my direct payments for?

The Council has to agree with the way you want to use your direct payment. We will then write a Care and Support Plan and Direct Payment Agreement with you. 

You have more choice with a direct payment because you can arrange services that the Council sometimes cannot provide.  You can use a direct payment to buy services such as:

  • employing personal assistants to provide personal care and other support this could be someone that you know already or someone recruited from an advertisement
  • contracting with a care agency instead of having the Council do it for you
  • buying community activities instead of going to a day centre

You are not allowed to use your Direct Payment to buy:

  • things that health services should provide like wheelchairs, medicines or pads for people who are incontinent
  • treatment that health services should provide such as physiotherapy or chiropody
  • things that the Council provides directly
  • regular household expenses that everyone has such as gas, electricity, rent or food shopping
  • alcohol, cigarettes or using it for gambling
  • equipment that could be classed as an offensive weapon. For example knives or guns 
  • anything else that is against the law!
  • employ a close relative who lives in the same household as you
  • giving cash to other people for doing things for you . It is ok to buy things with cash as long as you get receipts and it has been agreed with the social worker.


How do I use direct payments?

To use direct payment you have to: 

  • have a separate bank account for your direct payment and keep your own money separate (apart from your financial contribution, if you have one)
  • be able to show us how you have spent your direct payment.  This means that you have to keep receipts and bank statements.
  • pay the money back if you cannot prove how you have spent it or have spent it in ways that we haven’t agreed to. The Council can take legal action against you if you do not do so, because we have to protect public money.

If you use your direct payment to employ personal assistants, you are an employer. This might sound difficult and there are rules you must follow but we can help you. 

As an employer you have to:

  • treat your personal assistants properly according to employment law
  • pay their tax and National Insurance contributions (but you can get help to work these figures out)
  • enrol them in a pension scheme
  • be ready to deal with any recruitment and disciplinary issues
  • plan for replacement support if your personal assistant is sick or leaves


Help to use direct payments

It's really important that you get the right advice and understand your responsibilities.  We have to be certain that having a direct payment meets your needs and everyone is safe.  If not, we will stop direct payments and arrange care instead. 

You can use your direct payment to pay for this support or your relatives or friends can help you manage your direct payment if it is decided that they are the right person to help you.  For more information you can talk to Disability North, your social worker or contact Community Health and Social Care Direct.

These are the ways that you can get help with direct payments:


Direct Payment Support Service

Disability North are funded by the council to provide this service.

They give free, independent advice and assistance with:

  • budgeting
  • deciding on the best way to use direct payments
  • checks to make when choosing a care agency
  • recruiting and employing personal assistants 
  • training for you and your personal assistants
  • what to do if things go wrong.

You can use your direct payment to buy support services such as:

  • standard payroll services that work out the wages and any deductions for you. They tell you how much and when to pay your Personal Assistants
  • managed payroll services receive the money and handle financial transactions, including paying tax and National Insurance for your personal assistants
  • health and safety training for personal assistants
  • training for you on safe employment. This is recommended if you are thinking about or have decided to employ a personal assistant.  In some cases we will insist that you attend.
  • an insurance policy when you employ personal assistants. It must include employer’s liability and provide clear legal advice on how to deal with employment problems.


Support from the council

The council checks (audits) direct payments regularly. This means they can see if things are going wrong and help you to put it right.  

Very rarely people can be vulnerable to abuse from personal assistants.  If this happens you must report it to us. We take this seriously and will support you as much as we can.  We will make a plan of how to deal with your concerns as employment law has to be followed in these situations.


Support from your relatives or friends

If you have problems with your memory or making decisions you can still have a direct payment. You will need someone to take responsibility for your direct payment and this must be agreed with the council.  This is called having a “suitable person” who can act on your behalf. They sign up to a direct payment and take on all of the responsibilities. 

The Council decides who is a “suitable person” if you are assessed as not having the mental capacity to make decisions about direct payments.

You can ask someone to help you as a "supporter" even if you do not have problems with  making decisions.  You are still responsible for your direct payment but can get help with some of the tasks involved from your named supporter.


Will the amount of money I get as a direct payment always stay the same?

The amount of money that you get is based on the level of assessed need that you have. The support you receive through your direct payment will be reviewed by a social worker every year. If your needs or circumstances change, then so could your direct payment. This means the amount of money you get may stay the same or go up or down.

If you no longer need support from the Council or you need a different type of help (like residential care) your direct payment will stop. We will reclaim any unspent money in your direct payment account.


Do I have to have direct payments?

No you don’t. 

We must tell you about direct payments and support you to manage if you want them.  We will help you decide if direct payment are right for you, whether you are an adult with eligible needs or planning to act as a suitable person. Sometimes we will decide that direct payments are not right for you.  In that case we will organise your support for you.

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