Direct payments and personal budgets

Direct payments are a way for you to have control over your care and support personal budget. They give you greater choice and flexibility over the care and support you need to help you live independently at home.

Personal budgets

A personal budget is an amount of money allocated to pay for the social care and support you need.

We work out the amount after we have completed a social care needs assessment with you to identify:

  • what kind of care and support you need
  • how much it will cost 
  • how much you can afford to pay yourself

Social care needs refer to support and assistance you may need to maintain your well-being and to participate in daily life. You may need support with things like:

  • washing and dressing
  • getting out of or into bed
  • assistance at mealtimes
  • practical support to access social activities
  • domestic support such as cleaning, laundry and ironing
  • assistance with shopping

Direct payments

If you are assessed by our social care assessment team and need support with daily tasks, you can choose to take some, or all of your personal budget as a direct payment.

A direct payment is an amount of money we will give you on a regular basis. We will pay the money into a dedicated bank account, in your name, for the sole purpose of using this money to pay for your care and support. You can manage this bank account yourself or, if you prefer, we will support you to open a managed bank account.

When you receive the direct payment, you can then decide yourself which services you want to use and buy, how they will support you and when. This gives you more flexibility and control to employ someone you like and trust to support you rather than us arranging the services for you.

The amount of money you receive will depend on the assessment of your social care needs. 

Unlike healthcare, social care for adults is not free and you will be asked to complete a financial assessment to calculate what you can afford to pay towards the cost of your care and support. This is called a contribution. 

When your care and support plan and the amount of money you need to buy care and support is agreed, we will ask you to sign a direct payment agreement. The money will then be paid directly to your dedicated bank account less the amount you may be financially assessed to contribute. This does not affect any other benefits you may receive.

What you can buy with direct payments

The direct payment money you receive can only be spent on services and equipment which are lawful, keep you safe and help you with your agreed social care needs. 

You can use direct payments to pay for:

  • employing your own staff - sometimes called personal assistants - to help with personal care, social activities, maintaining relationships and support around the home
  • buying services from a care and support agency
  • buying services from voluntary and community organisations
  • arranging short breaks
  • buying assistive equipment for your home
  • help to support you with living a healthy lifestyle

You cannot use direct payments to pay for:

  • permanent residential and nursing care
  • NHS services or health equipment
  • employing someone living in the same household as you
  • services provided by North Yorkshire Council 
  • personal household items
  • accommodation and housing costs
  • alcohol, drugs, gambling and so on

Your social worker will provide more information about what you can and cannot spend your direct payment on, depending on your individual circumstances.

Using your direct payment

Direct payments give you more choice and control, but you, or the person you choose to manage your direct payments, are still accountable to us for how the money is spent. You will need to keep records of how your direct payment is spent and share these records with us on a regular basis.

If you choose to receive a direct payment, you are taking on the responsibility of buying and arranging your own support. This might include responsibilities as an employer.

If you are financially assessed to pay a contribution, you will need to arrange to pay this into your direct payment bank account either weekly or four-weekly. Setting up a standing order from your personal account is usually the easiest way.

Request a direct payment

You can get a direct payment if:

  • you have eligible social care needs
  • you can make decisions for yourself
  • you can manage a direct payment alone or with help
  • it will help you to meet your eligible needs

If you, or a child you care for, already receive care and support services you can speak to your social worker who can explain how a direct payment can work for you.

If you are requesting services for the first time, your social worker should discuss direct payments with you when they assess your social care needs. To request a new assessment, you can either:

You will need to work out a care support plan with your social worker to show how your support needs will be met.

Support and information

If you choose to receive a direct payment, you will be allocated a direct payments advisor to help you manage your payments. They will offer you support, information and advice about all aspects of your direct payment including:

  • costing your care and support
  • recruiting personal assistants
  • employer responsibilities
  • employment contracts
  • registering with a payroll provider
  • buying services from agencies
  • setting up a dedicated bank account
  • connecting you to other direct payment users
  • submitting information to show us how your direct payment is spent
  • reviews to discuss how your direct payment is working for you

At any time, you can decide to stop receiving direct payments and ask to receive support in a different way. You should discuss this with your social worker or your direct payments advisor.