Paying for your care and support
What are direct payments?
Direct payments are designed to give you more independence, choice and control, in order to help you manage your own life in your own home. Direct payments can be made to:
- disabled people aged 16 or over (with short or long-term needs)
- disabled parents for children’s services
- carers aged 16 or over (including people with parental responsibility for a disabled child)
- elderly people who need community care services
This page informs you of the responsibilities you have as a direct payment user and tells you where you can access further information. The Direct Payments Team has a range of information available to support you in managing your direct payment, see contact details at the end of this page.
A personal assistant (PA) is someone you employ who can help you live independently at home. You are responsible for recruiting and managing your PA, and the Direct Payments Team will provide you with support and advice during this process. You must have a job description and a signed employment contract with your PA. These are needed to ensure you meet your responsibilities as an employer.
The Direct Payments Team can provide a register of approved PA’s to help you recruit if necessary. They can help you access a ‘bank’ of trained and available PA’s who meet the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) requirements to cover staff shortages, absences and to support during the interim recruitment period.
If you have problems with your PA
If you have problems managing your PA you should discuss this with the Direct Payments Team.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and references
The PA should be offered a job subject to you receiving satisfactory references and DBS records. References are not required for family members but DBS clearance is essential. You are strongly advised to ensure you receive the PA’s references before you appoint them. This is to safeguard vulnerable adults and disabled children.
Any issues raised on the DBS check should be discussed with your care manager, to ensure that the PA is a suitable candidate to provide you with support to meet your needs.
Training your PA
If you are employing a PA then appropriate training should be delivered to them. Examples of training your PA may need to include:
- administering medication
- manual handling
- food hygiene
- dealing with emergencies
Please contact the Direct Payments Team for further information on training.
Safeguarding Children, Young People & Adults
This training module is for all ages and is supplied through the NHS Shared Services Partnership.
- If you are an adult employing a PA you are recommended to arrange for your PA to attend this training.
- You must ensure that any PA working with a disabled child has received this training within three months of starting the job.
Please contact your ILA about PA enrolment on this safeguarding training module.
Where appropriate, your care manager should have already completed a risk assessment regarding your care needs, ask them to share this with you.
When you become an employer you must undertake risk assessments on how your care needs are met. Your chosen insurance company will assist you with this and can send you blank risk assessment forms and supporting information, to ensure you comply with your responsibilities as an employer.
Employing a family member
You cannot employ a family member who lives in the same household as you as a PA, unless exceptional circumstances apply.
If your PA is unwell, unable to attend work or leaves your employment
When considering having a direct payment you should have discussed how to manage PA absences with your care manager and the Direct Payments Team, and agreed a contingency plan.
As a direct payment service user and an employer you must keep up to date records. These will be audited regularly. You will be at risk of losing your direct payments if there are issues identified with your record keeping.
Keeping your file up to date
You must ensure that your records are up to date and that the following are kept:
- details of employees’ (personal assistants) pay e.g. payslips, timesheets, holiday sickness
- list of expenditure
- all payments into the direct payment account e.g. paying in books, BACS advice slips
- invoices and receipts e.g. bought in care
- bank statements
- tax and insurance e.g. NI and PAYE information, employers liability insurance.
Keeping receipts, bank statements and employment records
The following records must be kept for a period of seven years:
- monthly bank statements
- receipts for expenditure incurred
- if employing a personal assistant, employment records inclusive of:
- staff details - name and address, national insurance number, date of employment commenced and ceased
- accurate details of leave entitlement
- record of hours worked and wages paid i.e. timesheets and wage slips
- details of payments to the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
As an employer you have to budget for national insurance, tax, pension, holiday pay and sick pay, as well as budgeting for emergencies. The Direct Payments Team can help you to budget for the following:
- PA expenses
- entrance fees (for care plans with socialisation only) e.g.
- Cinema Card
- Leisure centres can offer discounts for PA’s accompanying you
- Theatres offer discounts and/or free entry for certain events for PA’s.
- clothing / health and safety equipment – if your PA requires protective clothing or equipment to carry out personal tasks this can be purchased through the direct payment.
- travel (for care plans with socialisation only) – the direct payment can be used to budget for the travel expenses for the PA such as train or bus tickets (where a companion bus pass is not applicable). Similarly, you can budget to pay an agreed mileage rate
If you budget for expenses you must keep records (e.g. receipts, ticket stubs, or their employee’s wage slips to identify mileage).
If you are struggling with the record keeping
If you are having trouble keeping your records up to date you should discuss this with the Direct Payments Team for help on a monthly basis or as needed
If you need to have a managed account because you are unable to open a bank account, you will need to contact your care manager. Your care manager will visit to review your situation, and refer you to the Direct Payments Team to manage your account if necessary. If at any time you are unable to manage your Direct Payment, you can appoint a suitable person to act on your behalf.
If you are assessed as needing services to meet your needs and you lack capacity or have fluctuating capacity, a suitable person must act on your behalf to manage the Direct Payment. All Direct Payment rules will apply to a suitable person. The suitable person will need to have a DBS (please see section regarding DBS checks)
Your bank account
You must set up a separate bank or building society current account to receive the direct payments before the Council releases the money to you. You will be liable for any bank charges that arise as a result of your own mismanagement of the direct payments account. The Council will be liable for any bank charges that arise as a result of their actions, e.g. delayed / missed payment. You must authorise the bank / building society to release information to the Council concerning the contents of the account and transactions relating to it.
The direct payment team will carry out a review of your record keeping regularly.
Overpayments and Repayment
Monies paid to you by the Council can only be paid in to your direct payments account. If an overpayment is made for any reason by the Council, this sum must be repaid to the Council. If the payment is not returned to the Council, we may take action to recover it. If the direct payment stops for any reason, the Council will reclaim any money remaining in your direct payment bank account after you have paid any outstanding money to your PA or contracted provider.
The Council requires you to build up and hold a ‘contingency fund’ as part of your direct payments package. You will then have a separate amount of money to cover paying for emergency care as well as your PA’s sick pay. When setting up your direct payment package you should have already established what you will do in an emergency.
When the direct payments team audits your records they will check whether you have a contingency fund and the amount it contains. If the fund is more than the equivalent of four weeks plus 10% of your direct payments, you will be asked to pay this money back to the Council
If you are over 18 and receiving direct payments you will be subject to the charging policy. The Council has a fact sheet about charging that your care manager can provide you with, or if you have any specific queries, contact the Direct Payments Team :
Tel : 01437 776590
Discontinuing your Direct Payment
If you don’t want to carry on having a direct payment, you can stop by giving the Council four weeks’ notice. Before you stop you will need to talk to:
- your care manager about how you will receive support to meet your identified care needs.
- the Direct Payments Team so that you meet your legal requirements as an employer when terminating your PA’s contract.
The Council will give you four weeks’ notice in writing if they are going to stop your direct payments. Your care manager will ensure your care needs are met. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Council discontinue direct payments without giving notice.
Changes in your circumstances
If you have condition where your health and / or social care needs change you may need more or less support. If the current care package you have no longer fits what you need contact your care manager.
Contracting with a care provider
You may want to contract with an organisation or care provider rather than employ a personal assistant to meet your assessed needs. Most organisations that you employ must be a registered care provider with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) and meet National Minimum Standards. The exceptions are services that do not provide any personal care and self-employed care / support services (also known as ‘micro-enterprises’). You must have a signed contract with your chosen provider that will outline the tasks they will undertake for you to meet your assessed needs. Contact the Direct Payments Team for support with this.
If you choose to contract with an agency, make sure that you understand the hourly costs of their support.
Topping up your Direct Payment account
The Council pays a fixed direct payment hourly rate. If you are buying a service from a care provider it is likely that they will charge you more per hour for this service than the amount you receive as a direct payment. You will have to pay any difference from your own money. If you have been assessed as needing ten hours of support then you will be expected to contract for ten hours of care topping up the difference between the amount you receive from the Council and the amount charged.
If your circumstances change and you need more or less care, you are admitted to hospital or if you are unhappy with your direct payment and want to change or stop it, you must contact your care manager or the Direct Payments Team.
The Direct Payments Team has information leaflets to help you and can also provide you with telephone and face to face support. The direct payment team is here to help you keep on managing and using your direct payment. They will liaise with you and your care manager if there are any issues about how you are currently managing your direct payment. You can contact them using the information below:
Direct Payments Team
Tel : 01437 776590