Following feedback from our Parent Carer Forum and Parent Partners, these pages are being updated with a timescale for September 2023.

Direct payments are monetary payments made by a relevant body as an alternative to services provided. Direct payments can relate to a child’s Educational needs, Social care needs or Health needs. Each of these are treated differently and are subject to different regulations.

Do I qualify?

If you have been assessed by the Children with disabilities team as being in need of support services you may be entitled to receive Direct payments.

You may qualify if you are:

  • 0-18 years.
  • a severe learning disability.
  • A diagnosis of Autism with associated severe learning disability which has a significant impact on their communication needs, social and behavioural development.
  • severe global development delay.
  • a severe sensory impairment.
  • a significant, permanent and enduring physical disability or health need.

What are direct payments for education?

Direct payments for education are monetary payments to the parents of a child with an Education, Health & Social Care Plan (EHCP) or to the young person where suitable to do so. Direct payments are an alternative to receiving goods and services that form the special educational provision specified in an EHCP. This element of direct payments funding is dependent on what is available.

Who can receive direct payments for Social Care?

A person with Parental Responsibility can receive direct payments for a disabled child or young person if they have been assessed by the Local Authority as eligible for a service. A needs assessment will have been carried out by the Local Authority prior to the parent or carer’s application for direct payments. The assessment must take into account the needs of the family as a whole unit, rather than just the needs of the child or young person. 

If a disabled child or young person is not receiving the appropriate services from the Local Authority or their needs have changed, a reassessment should be requested. 

What are direct payments for health services?

Direct payments for health services are monetary payments made by a health body to a person as an alternative to services provided by the National Health Service and it is appropriate to that person’s condition. The details of such direct payments are beyond the scope of Family, Child and Education law and as such are not covered by this information page. The relevant provisions can be found in the National Health Service (Direct Payments) Regulations 2013.

What should I do when I start receiving payments?
  • Keep a record of how your direct payments have been spent.
  • Before you receive direct payments, social services are likely to ask you to sign an agreement stating you will only use the money to meet your child’s assessed needs. Thereafter, you are likely to be asked to provide them with information about how you have spent your direct payments. It is advisable to keep receipts of anything you use the direct payments for. The Local Authority will inform you of any other information you will be required to provide.
  • Keep Social Services informed; if the Local Authority is unhappy about how you have spent your direct payments, for instance, if it wasn’t used to meet the needs they agreed to, they can ask for the money to be repaid. We suggest you always inform your social worker if you intend to make any changed to the services you buy.

What can direct payments be used for?

If your local authority agrees that your child needs services, you can choose to get money to buy these services yourself instead of having them organised by the local authority. This money is given to you in the form of direct payments.

Some of the ways direct payments can be used are:

  • Getting help with your child’s personal care, for example bathing, dressing or eating, or help looking after them overnight.
  • A sitter service to look after your child when you are out.
  • Help for your child to use leisure facilities.
  • Help with household tasks to free up your time to look after your child.
  • A place at a day nursery or after-school care.
  • Someone to accompany your child on holiday.

For disabled young people between the ages of 16 and 17, the direct payment may be used to purchase equipment necessary to meet their needs, as set out in the Local Authority assessment. It is also possible for the payment to be used to employ someone who can assist with their care.

What can’t direct payments be used for?

Direct payments cannot be used to employ someone who is already resident in the same household, for example another parent or sibling, unless that person has been specifically employed as a live-in care assistant.

Direct payments from the Local Authority can only be used to pay for services that will meet the needs of the disabled child or young person as assessed by that Authority.

These Direct Payments should not be confused with direct payments for benefit, which are paid via the Department of Work and Pensions.

If you are awarded Direct Payments you will need to be able to manage the Direct Payment alone or with help from friends or relatives. Independent support and advice can be provided from the Direct Payment providers such as Ideal for All, People Plus and the Direct Payments Support Team.

PA support for 13 to 25 year olds

Ready4Life are an agency that provide PA support for 13 to 25 year olds with Direct Payments contact for more information.

The below video enables you to have a step-to-step guide on how to access the People Plus Portal, the second link gives an overview of the information that can be accessed from the portal i.e., payslips and raise any queries.

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