Personal Budgets and Direct Payments for Social Care

If you feel you may have social care needs to be independent, like, needing support from a personal assistant, help from a support worker or help with daily living tasks, like cooking or managing finances due to your disability or health condition, you should request a Needs Assessment from your local social services at your local Council.  The Care Act (2014) states, to be eligible, the individual must have problems with achieving at least two of these outcomes:

  • Managing and maintaining nutrition
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Managing toilet needs
  • Being appropriately clothed
  • Being able to make use of the adult’s home safely
  • Maintaining a habitable home environment
  • Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
  • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community, including public transport, and recreational facilities or services
  • Carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child.

This must have a significant impact on you.  They will get a professional, like a Social Worker to do an assessment to see if you have set eligible needs for care and support and you can therefore qualify and can get help, based on how you manage these outcomes.  If you qualify, they will agree a support plan and give you a personal budget to pay for it.

If you have savings over £23,250, the Council will expect you to pay for your own care.  If you have savings, but less than £23,200, you may be expected to pay something.  Often, if you get benefits, you may also be asked for a contribution towards your support and care needs.

Your Support Plan will determine the types of things you can spend this money on that help you be independent, but it could be personal assistance, support workers, someone to help you go shopping, understand bills or help you get out and about or to get  healthier, like gym membership.  It could be something like a phone or alarm to help you stay safe or specialist equipment not available from the NHS.  It could be help towards college costs or day centres or help to improve your employability.  You could spend some on going to the cinema or theatre if it is in your support plan.  It is to improve your quality of life, your daily living and independence, like to increase your sport or leisure interests or your personal care needs, or for short breaks as you can spend it on service providers, but it is not for costs you would have anyway, like gas bills or rent or debts.  You cannot use the money for alcohol, cigarettes or illegal drugs.  It has to relate to your Support Plan.  It is about you and your needs and aspirations.

If you get a Personal Budget, you can either, for example, get the Council to look after the money and pay people on your behalf, or you can take more control and ask for Direct Payments where you pay people directly.  You manage the budget and just report back to the Council occasionally.  You may, for example, if agreed in your support plan, hire your own personal assistant to help you with your care needs, but this is a reason-ability as you then become an employer.

Direct payment links

Easy Heath: Understanding Direct Payments Easy Read.

People’s First Info Understanding Personal Budgets and Direct Payment.

A look at the Social Care Assessment and the different needs of four people who qualify. 

Direct Payments and personal Budgets for Social care explained by Birmingham Council 

Hiring a personal assistant through direct payments and your personal budget Scope