Direct payments are made to allow people to organise and buy their own social care services.

Direct payments are a way you can have all or a part of your personal budget. They can be used in a variety of ways to pay for services such as personal care, respite and day services, minor home adaptations and specialist equipment. Direct payments enable you to have more choice and control over the support you receive and how your social care needs are met.

Direct payments are not seen as income and have no effect on tax or benefits. Direct payments should not be confused with Direct Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions. This is a way of paying pensions and other benefits direct into bank accounts.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for direct payments, you must be:

  • A person aged 16 or over that has been assessed as needing and being eligible for services, or
  • A carer with an agreed assessment of need that is eligible for direct carer support; or
  • The parent of a disabled child who has been assessed as needing and being eligible for services;

and

  • Be able to take responsibility for arranging (with support if required) and managing your own care;
  • Be willing to use direct payments; and
  • You must also be able and willing to consent to a direct payment and be able to manage the payment.

You can always choose whether to receive direct payments or to receive services arranged by us. You cannot be made to accept direct payments if you don't want them. If you do use direct payments and later decide not to, you can revert to the local authority providing the services.

Receiving the service

If you think you might be eligible to receive direct payments, please contact us to arrange for an assessment of your needs.

Further reading

Additional information from NHS Choices

See the NHS Choices page below for more information on direct payments:

Direct payment factsheets

We have produced a list of factsheets for people using direct payments:

You may have been offered a personal budget by us and are considering taking a direct payment to manage the budget. This factsheet will help get your started.

What are direct payments?

Direct Payments are one way you can use to manage your Personal Budget or your Personal Health budget.

Direct Payments are cash amounts paid directly to you so that you can arrange and pay for your social or health care support instead of services being arranged for you. The amount you receive is agreed with your social or health worker.   

Direct Payments offer greater flexibility, choice and control than support being arranged for you by the Council or the NHS.

It is your choice if you want to have a Direct Payment. The Council or the NHS must be satisfied that you understand what it involves and that the way you choose to use the cash will meet your needs and achieve the agreed outcomes. The way you use them must be legal and keep you safe and well.

For example you may want to employ your own Personal Assistant, providing you with the support at the times you want.

Alternatively you may decide you want to use money to buy support from a care agency, or you may want to find an alternative to the types of respite support the Council or the NHS could arrange for you.

In most cases the Council or the NHS must offer Direct Payments but for some people who are subject to some mental health legislation or aspects of criminal justice legislation the Council and the NHS have the power to offer alternative support.

Some people who are placed under certain conditions by courts in relation to drug/alcohol dependencies are excluded from receiving direct payments.

You may have been asked to open a separate bank account but please do not open your account until you have decided that you would like to try Direct Payments.

Direct Payments can be used in a wide range of creative ways as long as it is safe and legal to do so. There are some exceptions which the Council or the NHS will explain to you on request.

Who can have direct payments?

You can only have a Direct Payment once you have had an assessment and the Council or the NHS agrees you are eligible for certain social or health care services.

If you are eligible and:

  • A disabled person aged 16 years and above;
  • A parent of (or people with parental responsibility for) disabled children, to pay for services for the family;
  • A carer aged 16 years and above, for services to meet the carers own assessed needs
  • A disabled person with parental responsibilities for a child, for services to support their parenting role; or
  • An appointed Suitable Person for someone who lacks capacity (the Council or the NHS must agree who the suitable person is).

In most cases the Council or the NHS must offer Direct Payments but for some people who are subject to some mental health legislation or aspects of criminal justice legislation the Council and the NHS have the power to offer alternative support.

Some people who are placed under certain conditions by courts in relation to drug/alcohol dependencies are excluded from receiving direct payments.

You may have been asked to open a separate bank account but please do not open your account until you have decided that you would like to try Direct Payments.

Other Factsheets available

General Factsheets (A)

  • Charging for social care services
  • Suitable Person
  • Finance & Record Keeping
  • Keeping Safe
  • Peer Support
  • When things Happen (contingency, industrial tribunal etc)
  • Useful information you need to know

Specific Factsheets (B)

  • Recruiting a Personal Assistant
  • Employing a Personal Assistant
  • Employing People Legally
  • Being a Good Employer
  • Using an Agency
  • Insurance
  • Carers
  • Training Personal Assistants
  • When someone using a Direct Payment dies
  • Self-employment status

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format please contact the Direct Payments Support Service on 01609 780780.

If you consent to receive a service from the council through a direct payment it is important to understand that most people will be expected to contribute towards the cost of their care and support.

How much will I have to contribute?

The amount you may need to contribute will depend on your financial circumstances.

The council will carry out a financial assessment. We will ask you for information about your financial circumstances including details about your:

  • Income
  • Outgoings
  • Capital/savings

The financial assessment will be carried out by a benefits and assessment officer. They will use the details to work out your assessable income. The assessable income is the amount of money you have left after taking away some of the outgoings and any direct disability related costs/expenditure.

For more information about the amount you may have to contribute you can contact your local benefits and assessment team:

Central area (Hambleton, Richmond and Selby)

White Rose House, Thurston Road, Northallerton, DL6 2NA

Tel: 01609 533840

East area (Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale)

Castle House, Elders Street, Scarborough, YO11 1DZ

Tel: 01609 534648

West area (Harrogate, Ripon and Craven)

Jesmond House, 31 / 33 Victoria Avenue, Harrogate, HG1 5QE

Tel: 01609 532850

Selby (South)

Sandpiper House, Brook Street, Selby YO8 4AL

Tel: 01609 535333

What if I do not want to be financially assessed?

If you decline to have a financial assessment or you are not able to provide the information the council needs to work out how much you will need to contribute, we will assume that you are able to pay for the full cost of the service.

This will mean the council will not be able to support you to set up a direct payment and you will need to make you own arrangements to pay for your care and support.

When will I start to pay my contribution?

The assessed contribution amount will be payable from the start date of your direct payment.

How will I pay my contribution?

Upon completion of the financial assessment the benefits and assessment officer will inform you of how much you will need to contribute towards the cost of your care and support.

Anyone who consents to receiving a direct payment will be requested to open a dedicated bank account for the sole purpose of receiving the direct payment.

It is important that you make arrangements to pay your assessed contribution into the dedicated bank account on a weekly or four weekly basis.

Can you buy less care and not pay your contribution?

You are financially assessed to determine how much you can afford to pay towards the cost of your care. The contribution must be used first to pay for your support prior to the direct payment being used.

If you decide to use less support, your care needs will be reassessed to determine the correct level of support and you will be financially reassessed to determine the contribution for your new package.

What if you disagree with the amount of contribution you are asked to pay?

When you consent to receive a direct payment you are asked to enter and sign an agreement with the council which outlines the terms and conditions you must comply too as part of managing the direct payment.

One of those conditions is to agree to undertake the payment of your assessed contribution in to your dedicated direct payment bank account.

If you are unhappy with the financial assessment you must contact your local benefits and assessment team.

You must also continue to pay your assessed contribution into your dedicated direct payment bank account. This is because the contribution you are assessed to pay is the first part of the money spent on your care and support. If it is not paid into the direct payment bank account you will not be able to cover the full cost of your care and support.

If the contribution is not paid this may be considered as a breach of the terms and conditions of the agreement you entered into and may result in the council taking the decision to stop making further payments to your dedicated bank account.

If the benefits and assessment team agree to change the amount you are assessed to contribute and you have paid more into the direct payment bank account than you needed to the council will make arrangements for the amount you have overpaid to be returned to you.

Other factsheets available

General Factsheets (A)

  • Getting started
  • Suitable Person
  • Finance & Record Keeping
  • Keeping Safe
  • Peer Support
  • When things Happen (contingency, industrial tribunal etc)
  • Useful information you need to know

Specific Factsheets (B)

  • Recruiting a Personal Assistant
  • Employing a Personal Assistant
  • Employing People Legally
  • Being a Good Employer
  • Using an Agency
  • Insurance
  • Carers
  • Training Personal Assistants
  • When someone using a Direct Payment dies
  • Self-employment status

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

The council and the NHS have a duty to offer direct payments to people who lack the mental capacity to consent to them, where there is a 'suitable person' to receive and manage such payments on their behalf and where it would be in their best interests to have a direct payment.

Being appointed as a suitable person

  • You cannot just become a suitable person, legislation and guidance must be followed, you can discuss this with your social or health care co-ordinator.
  • You must meet all the criteria as set out in our policies for appointing a suitable person.
  • You will act as the suitable person on behalf of an adult who lacks mental capacity to consent to receive direct payments.
  • You must be willing and want to act as a suitable person.
  • North Yorkshire County Council’s direct payments support service is a free service and can provide support with all aspects of a direct payment. They can support you with using direct payments, payroll services, recruiting and managing personal assistants, and undertaking DBS checks, among other services.

Your role and responsibilities

  • You must follow good practice in making decisions on behalf of the person who lacks capacity and act in their best interests.
  • As the suitable person you are accountable for the way the direct payments are used.
  • You should involve the person who lacks capacity as far as reasonably practicable and give them as much control and independence as possible.
  • You agree to inform the council or the NHS of any changes or difficulties, or as soon as you believe the person has regained capacity.
  • You will sign an agreement with the council or the NHS relating to the use of the direct payments, and you must keep to its terms.
  • You agree to use the direct payments to purchase and obtain the services necessary to meet the needs of the person who lacks capacity.
  • When making these arrangements it may involve legal responsibilities, employing staff for example.
  • If you employ personal assistants, you must ensure you act lawfully as an employer - please ask the direct payments support service for the relevant factsheet.
  • If you use an agency, please ask the direct payments support service for the relevant factsheet for advice on how to use agencies and keep safe.
  • If the person you represent has fluctuating capacity, during periods when they regain capacity, you must ensure that you involve them as much as possible in decisions made about their care and support.
  • You may not use the direct payment to employ your spouse, civil partner or partner living in the same household without our permission. However, there may be occasions when we decide that it is necessary for the suitable person to use direct payments to secure such services. These situations are likely to be exceptional and an exceptions policy is adopted.
  • You must open a separate direct payments bank account and provide us with the details on the bank mandate form given to you.
  • If you are a corporation or unincorporated body, you must ensure that the money can be shown as separate to any funds you may hold for any other person or body.
  • While we do not want to discourage you from acting on behalf of an individual who lacks capacity, we must ensure that you are aware that anyone who acts as a suitable person may be guilty of fraud if they dishonestly abuse their position, intend to benefit themselves, or others, and cause loss or expose the person to risk or loss.
  • The Fraud Act 2006 created an offence of ‘abuse of position’. This applies when someone is expected to safeguard the interests of a person but instead acts against their financial interests. Such a person can be found guilty of a criminal offence.
  • If you are a corporation or unincorporated body you must undertake disclosure and barring service record checks for any workers you use to provide to the person who lacks capacity.

Keeping safe

  • The council and NHS need to be satisfied that you will undertake disclosure and barring service records checks for anyone employed to provide services for an individual. Direct payments support service can provide access to a check when you request one.
  • You must speak with the worker from the direct payments support service who will advise when a check must be undertaken for anyone you engage in providing services.
  • You will be required to undertake a criminal record check if you wish to be an appointed suitable person and you are not a family member, spouse, or a friend involved in the provision of care (please discuss with your social or health care co-ordinator for criteria). For example, an independent care broker or solicitor not previously known to the person who lacks capacity. You cannot be appointed until this check has been completed.
  • As the suitable person, you are only responsible for making decisions about direct payments, but there are other ways support can be provided for the person without capacity. Direct payments are just one option. Please discuss the alternatives with your social or health care co-ordinator.
  • If you decide you no longer wish to act as the suitable person you must contact the council or NHS as soon as you no longer want to carry on in this role.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

We do not expect you to keep detailed accounts but there are some records you must keep. We ask that you retain these as we will request them. A worker from the direct payments support service will discuss this with you and explain what you need to retain and when they will need to see your records.
 
The following information is for your guidance only, you may wish to check with HM Revenue and Customs who can provide further guidance on employer records. Alternatively, our direct payments support service can advise you on this. The examples shown below have been extracted from information and guidance provided by CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy).
 
Record category Examples Suggested retention period
Major financial records Bank statements, cheque books, paying in books, bank account interest details as well as summaries of expenditure. Current year plus six years
Everyday supplies and services

Invoices, receipts for direct payments items, agency fees, personal assistant wage slips, time sheets, domestic help, special supplies, leisure activities, and courses etc. Also receipts for equipment such as a raised toilet seat.

Note that these act as supporting documents for any queries regarding the above records in the major financial records category.

Current year plus one year
Major equipment and non-permanent adaptations Expenditure on major equipment or major non-permanent adaptations paid via the direct payment. Also records of warranties, maintenance agreements etc. Life of the equipment plus one year
Employer records Employer records - advice on this is part of the role of the direct payments support service or you can receive advice from HM Revenue and Customs. Contact HMRC for advice or the direct payments support 

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

You may be thinking about employing your own personal assistant. It is important to take certain steps to try and make sure that there isn’t any threat to you from other people who may harm you.

We believe that it would be better for you to have help and advice from Direct Payments Support Service if you decide to employ your own staff. This service is free to you. Direct Payments Support Service will give you all the support you need and signpost you to specialist expert advice at each stage of employing your own staff.

Direct Payments Support Service will help you to carry out a Disclosure & Barring Check on the person you want to employ (If you are a parent seeking to employ a personal assistant you must speak to your worker about these checks). We ask that you seriously think about this when you employ your own staff. North Yorkshire County Council or NHS will pay for this on your behalf.

There are a number of important things we would ask you to think about to keep yourself safe when you advertise and meet possible staff to see if they are suitable.

Follow this process to keep yourself safe:

  • Do not put your home address, telephone number, or details about yourself on the job advert. You could ask the Job Centre to advertise for you. They have their own process which will help you to stay safe or you can perhaps use a mail box number.
  • Make sure you ask for two written job references from the people you interview and follow them up.
  • When you interview people do it away from your home address if you can and have someone with you to support you.
  • You must comply with employment legislation. Direct Payments Support Service will support you to do this.
  • When the Personal Assistant starts working with you it is advised that you arrange for a friend, parent or someone you trust to spend some time with you when they first start work

If you still choose to recruit staff without support please talk to your Direct Payments Advisor about it so that they can give you information on how to do this safely.

The best advice is often from other people’s own experience

Would you like to talk to someone who uses a Direct Payment?

Are you managing a Direct Payment for someone else?

Are you thinking about Direct Payments but have questions you would like answered?

If the answer is yes: 

  • It is important to know that you will not be on your own if you choose to have a Direct Payment.
  • There are people who have experience of using and managing Direct Payments and  you could talk to them or decide to set up a meeting.
  • If you would like to set up a meeting with people who use Direct Payments, the Direct Payments Support Service can help you.
  • This could help you to keep up to date with information about Direct Payments and Self Directed Support.

For information and advice on setting up a Direct Payment Peer Support Network please contact the Direct Payments Support Service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

Occasionally things will happen or changes occur and you will need to talk to someone about what to do.

Some issues might be:

Your needs are not being met

The council and NHS have a responsibility to step in and help you. A review or reassessment of your needs may need to take place. We may have to arrange services for a period of time or support you to enable you to carry on using direct payments. If you are assisting with managing direct payments for someone please contact us about the change as soon as possible.

The emergency plans you have in place do not work

You will have discussed a plan about what you will do if your personal assistant goes off sick, takes annual leave or doesn’t show up for work. Sometimes the best plans do not always work. The council and the NHS have a responsibility to step in and assist you to meet your identified needs as agreed in your care/support plan.

A problem with the service bought from an agency

We can provide you with a factsheet that explains what you should do when arranging your support from an agency. If something happens and you are not happy with the service from the agency you must first contact them and discuss your concerns with them direct, as you are the customer. You can also contact the direct payments support service, your social or health care co-ordinator to discuss your concerns.

Issues with personal assistants you employ

If you employ a personal assistant you will become their employer. As an employer you must follow employment legislation. The direct payment support service can support you if you have concerns about the person you are employing.

If your personal assistant threatens to take you to an industrial tribunal

It is rare, but if this happens please contact the direct payment support service who can support you with this situation.

You have to go into hospital

Let us know if you have to go into hospital for any reason. If possible inform your personal assistant or arrange for someone else to do that on your behalf so that the personal assistant is kept informed.

You get into any other difficulty

Mistakes can happen when people are using direct payments. Please contact us and speak to the direct payment support service who will support you with your problem.

You have a compliment, comment or complaint about the direct payments service

If you have any compliments, comments or complaints about our services, please let us know. Any member of staff will be pleased to help you.

If you wish to make a contact to discuss anything related to your social care direct payment you can contact the complaints and quality standards team on 0800 515875 or 01609 532638 or email social.complaints@northyorks.gov.uk.

If you wish to make a contact to discuss anything related to your health direct payment you can email one of the patient relations teams listed below.

NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG HARDCCG.PatientRelations@nhs.net

NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG HRWCCG.PatientRelations@nhs.net

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG SCRCCG.PatientRelations@nhs.net

Other factsheets available

General Factsheets (A)

  • Getting started
  • Charging for social care services
  • Suitable Person
  • Finance & Record Keeping
  • Keeping safe
  • Peer Support
  • Useful information you need to know

Specific Factsheets (B)

  • Recruiting a Personal Assistant
  • Employing a Personal Assistant
  • Employing People Legally
  • Being a Good Employer
  • Using an Agency
  • Insurance
  • Carers
  • Training Personal Assistants
  • When someone using a Direct Payment dies
  • Self-employment status

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

The direct payments support service can advise and assist you with all the things you need to consider when recruiting your own staff. If you choose not to have this support then you must consider the following:

Employment law will apply to you as an employer and you must ensure that your process stays within the law.

You should think about:

  • Writing job descriptions, job specifications, job adverts, preparing job application packs.
  • The personal assistant’s conditions of service, rates of pay, hours, breaks (Contract of Employment).
  • What they will do, how and when.
  • What training is needed.
  • What you will do when your personal assistant takes annual leave, is sick or needs other unplanned time off work.
  • How to keep safe when advertising, interviewing and recruiting.

We would recommend that you:

  • Do not put your home address, telephone number, or details about yourself on the job advert. You could ask the Job Centre to advertise for you - they have their own process which will help you to stay safe or you can perhaps use a mail box number.
  • Make sure you ask for two written job references from the people you interview and follow them up.
  • When you interview people do it away from your home address if you can and have someone with you to support you.
  • You must comply with employment legislation and we strongly advise you have support to do this.
  • When the personal assistant starts working with you it is advised that you arrange for a friend parent or someone you trust to spend some time with you when your personal assistant first starts work.

If you still choose to recruit staff without this help please talk to your social or health care co-ordinator about it so that the direct payment support service can give you information on how to do this safely or you can speak with a safeguarding officer who will give you advice.

If you choose to use an agency the law says that care agencies must be registered with the Care Quality Commission. Please discuss this with a direct payments advisor who will advise you how to do this.

You will only be able to use your direct payment to buy support from an agency that is registered.

Remember - always ask for help if you think you need it.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

You may choose to employ your own personal assistant. If you do, the direct payment support service can give you as much support as you need to help you use direct payments. They specialise in this advice and can provide support and information on all aspects of direct payments and how to be a good employer.

They can also keep you up to date with changes in employment legislation and developments within independent living that may be of benefit to you when choosing to use your own staff.

The council and NHS strongly recommend that you use the support of the service when using your direct payment to employ personal assistants.

Should you choose not to use the direct payment support service you must inform your Direct Payments Advisor who is supporting you. They will provide you with a factsheet pack to give you some guidance on becoming a good employer and how to keep safe and use direct payments.

The council and NHS strongly recommend that if you choose to use a personal assistant to provide your support, that you employ the staff and not use people who offer a service as self-employed personal assistants.

When you choose to employ people you take on significant responsibilities. You must think about all the aspects of employing your own staff to ensure you are a good employer.

Employed personal assistants

If you employ staff this means that you become an employer. If you become an employer you must register with HM Revenue and Customs. There are a number of things you must ensure you have in place when employing staff:

  • Payroll.
  • Fair rates of pay - you must adhere to the minimum wage.
  • Writing job description/job specification.
  • Contracts of employment.
  • Employee rights and responsibilities must be adhered to i.e. ensuring correct income tax, national insurance contributions, holiday pay, sickness pay (SSP), maternity pay, paternity pay.
  • Managing risk/Health & Safety.

The direct payments support service can support you with all this and make employing staff easier for you. When you recruit your own staff you may have to apply a selection process that involves advertising and interviewing staff. The direct payments support service can help you to stay safe during this recruitment process. If you choose not to make use of this support, the council and NHS advise that you follow a number of steps to ensure you keep safe.

Some things that you will be responsible for when recruiting personal assistants:

  • Advertising/job description/job specification.
  • Short listing and interviewing your staff.
  • Job references, appointing staff.
  • Criminal records check.
  • Employing people legally.
  • Employer’s liability insurance.

The direct payment support service can provide all or part of this support.

Self-employed

Some people will tell you that they are self-employed; however, it is the responsibility of the person who engages a personal assistant to operate PAYE and to account for National Insurance Contributions (NIC) unless the personal assistant is engaged through an agency.

You can find guidance on employment status on the GOV.UK website.

The GOV.UK website states: “You’re classed as an employer if you pay a carer or personal assistant directly, even if you get money from your local council (‘direct payments’) or the NHS to pay for them”.

The aim of a direct payment is to give people more control. For this reason you cannot use a direct payment to secure services from a self-employed personal assistant. This is because the control over how and when care and support is delivered remains largely with the self-employed personal assistant.

There may be circumstances where the council or NHS may agree to pay a self-employed personal assistant for instance reasons relating to child care. The exceptions policy will be adopted. Please speak to your direct payments advisor to find out more about the exceptions policy.

It you are thinking about using a direct payment to purchase support from a self-employed personal assistant, the direct payment support service can offer information and advice about when you can use a direct payment to purchase care and support from a self-employed personal assistant.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

Legislation came into force in February 2008 that requires you as an employer to make basic checks with every person you are considering employing to confirm that they can legally work in the United Kingdom.

The law says that you must do some document checks and failure to do this may result in a fine.

We recommend that you have advice and support from the Direct Payments Support Service to do this.

If you want to manage this yourself instead, The Home Office Guidance document ‘Prevention of Illegal Working’ for employers will guide you with what you must do. You can get this from the Home Office helpline 0300 123 4699.

You must complete these checks before anyone starts working for you. You can offer them employment once the checks are completed and you are satisfied they can work in the United Kingdom. You must not employ anyone who is not legally able to work in the United Kingdom.

You need to know that using a self-employed Personal Assistant may not be straightforward. HRMC have advised they would consider almost all Personal Assistants to be employed rather than self-employed for tax purposes. We suggest you seek further advice from the DPSS before proceeding with this option.

If you use a registered domiciliary agency this law does not apply to you. North Yorkshire County Council and NHS would recommend that you ask the agency if they carry out these employment checks

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format please contact the Direct Payments Support Service on  01609 780780.

Direct payments offer you the opportunity to have support that fits with the way you want to live your life. If you are going to employ your own staff you must do this in keeping with the law.

  • By law you must provide your personal assistant with a written contract of employment that defines their terms and conditions of employment. We recommend that you seek advice and support in doing this. This is available from the direct payment support service.
  • As an employer you must pay PAYE, tax and National Insurance contributions. This is easier to manage when you use a payroll service. We advise that you consider doing this. The direct payment support service will provide information about payroll services.
  • You must register with HM Revenue & Customs as an employer. The direct payment support service can help you to do this. If you will be doing this yourself please contact the new employers helpline on 0300 200 3211 or you could contact your local tax office for advice.
  • You must pay your personal assistant no less than the minimum wage. You will also need to keep up to date with any changes to this rate. HM Revenue & Customs will give you advice on these rates.
  • There will be occasions when your personal assistant is unable to work because of sickness. The personal assistant may be eligible for statutory sick pay. You will need to check the qualifying conditions with HM Revenue & Customs.
  • You must be aware of working time regulations and your responsibilities as an employer.
  • As an employer you will need to be aware that your personal assistant is entitled to annual leave. It is advisable that you check the current entitlement and make sure you keep up to date with changes.

From October 2012 under the Provisions of Pensions Act 2008 as an employer you may be subject to the automatic enrolment duty and will be required to automatically enrol your personal assistants into a pension scheme.

A key requirement is to automatically enrol certain workers, known as eligible jobholders, into a pension scheme that meets specific conditions to be an ‘automatic enrolment scheme’.

The direct payment support service can provide you with information on the conditions to be an automatic enrolment scheme. However, automatic enrolment is only one of the duties.

As an employer compliance with the new employer duties and safeguards is compulsory. If you fail to comply with your employer duties, HM Revenue & Customs may take enforcement action and issue a notice and/or a penalty.

We strongly recommend that you seek advice from the direct payment support service or another organisation specialising in employment. The direct payment support service, they can help you with all of this.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780 780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

You may want to use a home care (sometimes known as domiciliary care) agency to provide your care. If you choose to use an agency the staff who will work with you will usually be employed by the agency. In this case you will not be the employer and the agency will be responsible for managing the staff and will pay their wages.

You will still maintain choice and control as you will make arrangements directly with them and will be able to say how, when and where your support will be provided.

You will pay the agency invoice when you receive it from your direct payments bank account. Always check that you have discussed all of your arrangements with the agency and have an agreement in writing. Ensure that the agency has given you a breakdown of all their costs in writing. You do not want to have any unexpected costs, such as additional charges for mileage, bank holidays etc. that you have not previously agreed to pay.

If you choose to use an agency who charges an hourly rate which is more than the direct payment hourly rate paid to you, it is likely you will have to pay the difference from your own personal funds. We will advise you to discuss any additional costs with your social or health care co-ordinator when your direct payments are arranged.

Agencies providing personal care are required by law to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). You can ask the agency staff to show you details of its registration.

You can have as much support as you need in making these arrangements.

Before you decide to buy a service from a particular agency we recommend that you ask the agency:

  • About their registration with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
  • To see a copy of their insurance policy.
  • If all their staff have had a disclosure and barring service check.
  • How it manages its staff and how often someone will come and check you are happy with its service.
  • If they employ the staff and meet all their tax and national insurance payments.
  • How they would deal with any complaint you may have with the agency’s service.
  • How they arrange for staff cover during holiday time or through absence due to sickness and if a member of the agency staff will discuss this with you when cover for regular staff needs to be made.
  • What training they provide for their staff and what qualifications and experience do they have.
  • How you can you tell them if you are not happy with their service.
  • If they carry out a risk assessment for you and the staff.
  • If you will be given copies of the hours the staff work so that you can pay the correct amount.
  • How much it will cost you to use their service and how to pay the money to them.

Once you have been working with individual members of staff for some time you may think you could employ them direct as a personal assistant and not use the agency.

The council and NHS strongly recommend that you talk to the direct payments support service before you do this. Some agency agreements allow you to employ their staff directly but may charge you a fee as part of their conditions for providing the service for you. If you want to do this please contact the direct payment support service on 01609 780780.

We have only given you a few suggestions of the type of questions you may want to ask. Please think about the information you want and what questions you need to ask the agency to help you to choose the right agency for you.

If the agency tells you they will not be able to continue providing care for you, you will need to contact alternative providers to make new care arrangements. If you need support to do this, please contact your social or health care co-ordinator as soon as possible.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

Employed personal assistants

You are legally required as a person who employs staff to have insurance. The council and NHS strongly recommend that you use the support provided by the direct payment support service to do this.

Accidents can happen in a number of ways, for example the personal assistant may trip and fall. It could be that the personal assistant thinks you as the employer is to blame for this and may hold you responsible.

Sometimes employer’s liability insurance and public liability Insurance can be included in a comprehensive household policy but most policies don’t. You must check with your own insurance company and not assume that it does for these purposes.

This insurance must be in place before your personal assistant can start work:

Employer liability insurance

If your employee is injured while working for you and you are held legally liable you will be protected to cover legal costs and compensation. By law most employers must have employer’s liability insurance.

Public liability insurance

This will insure you against any damages or injury caused to someone else by you or your personal assistant while working for you.

Both the council and NHS will fund the cost of this insurance as part of your direct payment. We do not recommend who you use to provide your insurance cover but the direct payment support service will provide you information on where to go.

We advise you take out a policy that covers you in the event that your personal assistant takes you to an industrial tribunal or you need to make someone redundant. There are terms and conditions you must adhere to and these will be explained by the insurance company.

Self-employed personal assistants

It is extremely unlikely that the Inland Revenue would consider anyone who works as a personal assistant in your home as self-employed, but if you have had this confirmed (see fact sheet on employing someone legally) it is the responsibility of the personal assistant who is self-employed to provide their own insurance cover to offer their services. You must ask to see a copy of the policy before you agree they can provide you with their service. You would not pay for the insurance for someone who is self-employed.

Agency

It is the responsibility of the agency to have the correct insurance cover before offering their services. You must ask to see a copy of this before buying their service with your direct payment.

Using a vehicle

If your personal assistant is providing transport for you in their own vehicle they will need to ensure they take out the appropriate insurance cover. You must advise the personal assistant to contact their insurance company and request business cover and show you a copy.

If the personal assistant is driving your vehicle you must ensure they are added onto your insurance cover.

The direct payment support service will provide support and guidance to ensure you have all the insurance cover you will need.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

What are Direct Payments?

If you are eligible for social care support from North Yorkshire County Council you can choose to have Direct Payments so that you can organise and buy services yourself instead of the council arranging services for you. Carers can receive Direct Payments instead of receiving carers’ services.

Why would I want direct payments?

Direct Payments allow you to make more of the decisions that affect your life. You can decide how your support needs are met. You can make arrangements directly so that any staff you employ report directly to you. If you use an agency, the agency deals with you, not the Council.

How could I get direct payments?

To get Direct Payments as a carer you need first to have a Carer's Needs Assessment. You can request an assessment by contacting us or talking to your doctor, health visitor, district nurse or community psychiatric nurse as they could make a referral on your behalf if you would like them to.

If the person you care for is in hospital, speak to a nurse and ask to be put in touch with a hospital social worker. If you are eligible for support because of all you do as a carer your assessor will explain what the options are - this will include how direct payments could work for you.

If you already receive carers' services arranged by us and want to talk about having direct payments instead please contact us on 0845 0349410. Direct payments are one of many options available to you. We will explain what these are and you can then decide what will work best for you.

Young carers

If you are aged 16 or 17 years old and are undertaking a substantial caring role for an adult, direct payments might be an option for you. You can request a Carer's Needs Assessment by contacting us.

What can direct payments be used for?

Direct Payments must be used to meet the needs that have been agreed through your carer's needs assessment so that you are supported in your caring role and helped to keep well and healthy.

Direct Payments can be used to buy goods and services or to directly employ someone. There are some things you cannot use Direct Payments for:

  • To pay yourself as a carer for the care you provide;
  • To employ someone who lives in the same household as you or in the household the person you care for (unless it is agreed this is necessary); or
  • Services of an intimate nature (e.g. bathing) or respite care for the person you care for (if we agree following their assessment that they need such support, they could have their own direct payments or have their services arranged by a social care co-ordinator).

Will I need to pay anything myself?

We do not charge for services for carers. You will not be financially assessed. Direct payments do not affect any benefits you may be receiving. However they will affect the benefits of anybody you choose to employ.

Could the person I care for receive Direct Payments?

Most people who have social care support at home from North Yorkshire County Council could now receive Direct Payments:

  • Older people who have been assessed as needing community care services.
  • Disabled people aged 16 and over, including those with short as well as long term needs.
  • Carers, in place of receiving carers’ services.
  • Families with disabled children for children’s services.
  • Disabled parents for children’s services.
  • People receiving a Direct Payment on behalf of someone else who lacks capacity.

Sometimes a person who needs social care support is not able to make the necessary decisions about Direct Payments. This is described as lacking capacity. It is possible for someone to receive Direct Payments on their behalf and to use them to meet the person’s needs. If you are the carer of someone who would benefit from Direct Payments and either you or someone you know would be willing to act as the ‘suitable person’ to receive the Direct Payments for them, please get in touch with the Direct Payment Support Service.

There are only very limited circumstances when Direct Payments could not be offered and the reasons would be explained.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format please contact the Direct Payments Support Service on 01609 780780.

If you choose to employ your own Personal Assistants (PAs), the person assisting you with drawing up your support plan and/or your Direct Payment Advisor can help you be more specific about what you need to do to become a responsible employer. This will include thinking through any training you/your staff will need to undertake.

You need to make sure any staff you employ are able to carry out the tasks you expect of them and do not put you or themselves at risk of being injured. It is, therefore, particularly important that you and your staff understand the implications of any moving and handling tasks expected of them. 

Insurance companies state that they will only pay out if the Personal Assistant is trained in moving and handling by an appropriate trainer. In the event of a claim it is important you understand the implications.

Employers are required to provide their staff with instruction, information, training and supervision. In particular health and safety legislation applies to employers of five or more staff who are then legally required to provide training. We strongly recommend that you identify your own training needs so you can provide some formal guidance/training to your Personal Assistants. The Direct Payment Support Service may be able to advise on this and also provide info about suitable, available training. We also recommend that they/you access the training courses you have identified. This may mean attending some courses together. Some training is also available in the home setting.

If your personal assistant has not already undertaken training, and depending on the tasks they will be asked to undertake, the sorts of courses you may need to consider are for example:

  • Moving and Handling – if your Personal Assistant supports you with any moving and handling tasks, then they will need to have Moving and Handling training
  • First Aid
  • Infection Control
  • Food Hygiene
  • Health care tasks
  • Administration of Medication
  • Health and Safety

You may also want to consider other specialist courses, such as dementia awareness, autism, diabetes, etc. For more advice about your personal assistants’ training needs please contact your direct payments advisor.

Some useful information is also available from Skills for Care for the training of personal assistants:

  • A framework for supporting personal assistants working in adult social care
  • Picking your pathway 
  • Common Induction standards There are new standards being completed at this moment through Skills for Care and Skills for Health who are including PA’s in the Common Induction Standards and also they have completed a Code of Conduct for health and social care workers, including PA’s.
  • The QCF level 3 diploma in health and social care called “For those working as a personal assistant” replaces NVQs. There are standalone units that PA’s can complete as they can now choose only units applicable to what they are doing. The Direct Payments Support Service on 01609 780780 will be able to advise you about access to this in your area. You can find out more about personal assistants on the Skills for Care website.   
  • The Workforce Development Fund can help with training costs. By following this link you can find further information about the Workforce Development Fund and local partnerships who can support you to access this. People who employ their own care and support staff will need to register some basic details about themselves and their PAs on to the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care to be able to access the funding but the local partnerships or a telephone support service can help with this.

The Workforce Development Fund is a funding stream from the Department of Health disseminated by Skills for Care. It focuses on the achievement of qualification units and supports the ongoing professional development of staff across the adult social care sector.

The fund is distributed by Skills for Care via a network of employer led partnerships and large national organisations:

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format please contact the Direct Payments Support Service on 01609 780780.

When someone in receipt of a direct payment dies, the social or health co-ordinator need to be informed so that we can stop the arrangements that are in place. Please contact us on 01609 780780. You will be asked for the name of the executor or the person who will be dealing with the affairs of the deceased (the executor will be named in the deceased's will as the person who will deal with their affairs after their death). We will also ask you if there is a solicitor. If there is a solicitor involved please give their name and contact details, e.g. address and telephone number. We need this information so we know where to send correspondence.

We will contact the social or health care management team who will close the direct payment and payments will cease. They will write to the executor/solicitor to explain and support you regarding the direct payment account and fulfilling all the legal requirements. The direct payment support service will also be involved during this time to ensure all the employer responsibilities are completed correctly.

The direct payment account

The money has been provided to buy services for someone who needed social or health care support. It does not form part of the person’s estate and cannot be used for any other purpose other than direct payment contractual obligations that need to be met. It cannot be used for such things as funeral expenses. Any money left in the direct payment account once all the contractual and legally required sums have been paid must be returned to the council or the NHS. The direct payment support service will advise you on how this is done.

If you are the executor of the will

You will need to find out if there are any contractual obligations or payments that need to be made from the dedicated direct payment account. For example, if the deceased had been employing a personal assistant, this person will need to be paid for the work that they have already completed and any redundancy/annual leave pay that is due to them. The direct payment support service can assist you to do this (the redundancy payment due to each employee under the statutory redundancy payment scheme depends on the individual’s age and length of service).

If you are not the executor of the will

It is very important that you explain the direct payments scheme to the executor. They may not know how direct payments work. They need to be made aware that the bank account is a dedicated direct payment account and that the remaining money in it, after all contractual and legally required sums have been paid out, needs to be returned to the council or the NHS.

If there is no will

The individual is said to have died 'intestate'. Usually a close relative like a spouse, child or parent will be able to apply for the legal right to sort out the estate of the person who has died. In order to be able to administer someone's estate you (or the friend or relative) will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a 'Grant of letters of administration'.

Access to the direct payment account 

It is advisable that you obtain a solicitor to help you through the process. On receipt of the grant, you or the individual will become the 'administrator' of the estate. The grant provides proof to banks, building societies and other organisations that you have authority to access and distribute funds that were held in the deceased's name. You will then be able to access the direct payment bank account and will be able to make any payments that need to be made. Once all payments have been made, you will need to return the remaining money to the council or the NHS.

How can we meet the contractual responsibilities if we cannot access the money?

In the case where the account has been frozen or there is no access to the account, then the council or NHS will, in certain circumstances, pay out some outstanding payments e.g. salaries on the individual’s behalf. This money will then be recovered once the account has been reactivated and closed. To enable you to fulfil all your legal requirements please contact the direct payment support service for more information.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format, please contact the direct payments support service on 01609 780780 or email directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk

The Care Act 2014 aims to give people control over their care where possible. Employing personal assistants or care workers can be very empowering to individuals who choose to have their support met via a Direct Payment. To optimise a person’s control over their delivery of care and support, North Yorkshire County Council and the NHS offer direct payments to enable people to become employers or to contract directly with a provider.

However, the NHS and the council’s policy is not to allow a direct payment to be used to pay self-employed carers unless there are exceptional circumstances and certain conditions are met. One of the conditions is that carers must be “suitably registered”, that is registered as a child-minder where the DP is for a child’s care or registered with the CQC where the DP is for an adult’s care and support.  By law care agencies and individuals who provide personal care must be registered.

The council and the NHS will retain the discretion to make an exception which must be approved in writing.

Where a person wishes to pursue to pay a self-employed personal assistant from a direct payment an Exception application must be completed.

What is a self-employed personal assistant

The UK Government website clearly states where a person uses personal assistants, the user is as an employer if they pay a personal assistant directly, even if you get money from your local council (‘direct payments’) or the NHS (personal health budget) to pay for them.

Your personal assistant is usually treated as an employee because in law there are certain conditions that must be met for someone to be viewed as self-employed.

Before any of the DP is used to pay a self-employed personal assistant, the DP recipient and / or their agent will have to agree to take steps to satisfy the council and the NHS, that the provision is set up in a lawful way.

It is important to understand that an individual does not choose their employment status, HMRC decides whether it will treat a person as self-employed or employed.  Although it is not impossible for a PA to be treated as self-employed (for tax purposes), generally HMRC regards carers as employed. 

It will be your responsibility to check the employment status of the PA/s you intend to hire. If the employment status is not properly checked with HMRC you could face the financial (and emotional) turmoil of an HMRC enquiry.

What are the risks of paying a self-employed PA?

As explained earlier it is important that you check your PA is deemed by HMRC to be treated as self-employed for care work.

If you get your personal assistants’ employment status wrong, there could be serious consequences:

  • If HMRC decide your personal assistant should have been treated as an employee, you may be liable for any tax, NIC and possibly penalties due.
  • If something should happen between you and a seIf-employed personal assistant, and you decide not to ask them to do any more work for you, the self-employed personal assistant may choose to take you to a tribunal. If an Employment Tribunal decides your personal assistant should have been treated as an employee you may have to pay the PA for unfair dismissal, which could be many thousands of pounds.
  • If the Pensions Regulator decides your PA should have come within the scope of auto-enrolment, they may also levy penalties on you as the employer.
  • It is important to understand that you will be responsible to pay for any penalty liabilities where HMRC, a tribunal or the Pensions regulator find the status of a PA who claims to be self-employed, to be employed.

How can I check my PA’s status?

If your PA claims to be self-employed, or you decide to treat your PA as self-employed, there are some steps you can take to check that this is acceptable:

  • There is more information about working out a PA’s status on GOV.UK.
  • There is also an online Status Indicator Tool on GOV.UK
  • You can ring HMRC to talk to someone about your PA’s status on 0300 123 2326. More details on GOV.UK 
  • You can ring the Pensions Regulator Helpline on 0345 600 1011
  • You can ring the ACAS Helpline on 0300 123 1100
  • Or you can ring the employment law helpline provided by your insurance company.
  • Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure you get your PA’s status right or there could be serious consequences.

Should you require any further information on direct payments or require this factsheet in another format please contact the Direct Payments Support Service on 01609 780780.

  • Direct payments are not a benefit - the money comes from North Yorkshire County Council or the NHS to meet your assessed social and health care needs. It is an alternative to services being arranged for you.
  • Having direct payments will not affect your benefits or be counted as income.
  • Sometimes you may be able to employ someone who lives with you (this could be a family member) but you must talk to the council or the NHS about this first. There could be implications for any household benefits. Talk to your social or health care co-ordinator first.
  • You can take as long as you need to decide if you want to use direct payments. While you decide we will arrange interim services to meet your needs.
  • You can add your own money to top up a direct payment to make it even more flexible.
  • This may feel like a big responsibility but don’t worry, there is a lot of support to help you manage the scheme and succeed. The most important thing is you are in control but this doesn’t mean doing everything on your own.
  • You can mix your care arrangements. For instance you could ask the council or NHS to arrange some of your support and use a direct payment to arrange some of the support yourself - a mix and match of services that you choose.
  • You do not have to calculate tax and National Insurance if you employ someone - the direct payment support service will signpost you to a payroll service.
  • There are no difficult forms for you to fill in - we only need to see your bank statements and other documents such as payslips, invoices, etc, to check your fund is working properly.
  • If direct payments do not work for you the council and the NHS can arrange services for you instead.
  • Most people who use direct payments say they would not choose to have services arranged for them again. The most important thing is to be in control of your own life. Direct payments mean that you have freedom, choice, control and flexibility in your life to have the help you need by making your arrangements.

Direct payments - frequently asked questions

The money you receive through direct payments enables you to arrange and be in control of the services you choose to meet your needs. There are a wide range of options available for using the money but there are also certain limitations.

The available options and limitations are explained below. You must also only spend your direct payments on things that your assessment shows that you need and that are reflected in your support plan.

You could use the money received through direct payments to:

  • Employ your own staff to provide personal care;
  • Set up a contract with an agency to provide staff and services for you;
  • Arrange your own transport to access services in the community;
  • Arrange activities to meet your social, leisure or occupational needs;
  • Purchase minor adaptations to your home and certain items of equipment to aid daily living;
  • Arrange for relief from the stress and demands of caring by arranging your own respite care to offer you or your carer a break;
  • Purchase a holiday or short break, provided this has been agreed with your assessor and is considered an appropriate way to meet your assessed needs; or
  • Get a practical service which will help you to stay living at home.

You can use the money to receive any combination of these options and any other services that are available. In this way you can create your own service that fits your choices and needs.
    
You cannot use the money received through direct payments to:

  • Buy services provided by the local authority, i.e. North Yorkshire County Council (but you can ask us to buy them on your behalf);
  • Buy permanent residential or nursing care;
  • Employ a spouse, partner or other close relative, if that person lives with you in the same household (exceptions can be made to this but only in exceptional circumstances as authorised by us);
  • Pay for a personal assistant's expenses such as food and drink or entry fees, except under specific, agreed circumstances (many places allow support workers and personal assistants a reduced entry fee or free entry and all these options must be explored prior to any agreement being sought for payment of entry fees);
  • Buy health-related services or equipment that should be provided by the NHS;
  • Pay household bills or buy clothes, food etc.; or
  • Buy anything that does not meet your agreed needs.

Once your support plan has been agreed the direct payments can only be used in the way indicated in this plan. If you want to change how your direct payments are used then a new plan will have to be agreed with your social care assessor.

Reviewing direct payments

We recognise that each case will be different and that costs for services will differ but agreements for direct payments must be subject to regular review. This is so that we can fulfil our duty to ensure that the services we arrange achieve the best value.

Help with managing direct payments

If you receive direct payments you will be personally responsible for how the money is used, but you can get help with how you manage it. We run a direct payments support service to provide help and support for people receiving direct payments.

Note that direct payments are not seen as income and have no effect upon tax or benefits.

No, you are financially assessed to determine how much you can afford to pay towards the cost of your support needs. The service user contribution must be used first to pay for your support prior to the direct payment being used.

If you decide to use less support, your care needs will be reassessed to determine the correct level of support and you will be financially reassessed to determine the service user contribution for your new package.

You should collect receipts for services bought using direct payments under certain circumstances. However, for some situations, this is not strictly necessary.

If the direct payment is under £400, for example, for a one-off direct carers grant, then it is not necessary for assessment staff to routinely collect receipts. Please note however, that upon the next visit, your social care worker may ask to either see the item purchased or have sight of the receipt.

If the direct payment is to purchase a regular service, for example, regular entrance to a club or venue as part of your assessed needs, then receipts are required as part of the monitoring process of the direct payment.

If you are unsure about collecting a receipt then it is always best to do so as this will prevent potential problems in the future. Your social care worker will be able to advise you about what to do in specific situations.

Note that direct payments are not seen as income and have no effect upon tax or benefits.

We offer comprehensive support for people receiving direct payments through our direct payments support service.

The direct payments legislation requires that people who are interested in receiving direct payments should have access to independent, good quality information, advice and support when considering or receiving direct payments.

We offer information; advice and support for:

  • Employing staff, including advertising, recruiting, contracts of employment, wages, tax and National Insurance (NI);
  • Contracting with other agencies, including using agencies approved by health and adult services, specifying the services you want and your rights as a contractor; and
  • Completing returns for the local authority.

Note that direct payments are not seen as income and have no effect upon tax or benefits. 

Contacting the direct payments support service

You can contact the direct payments support service at any time within office hours. Email them at directpayments@northyorks.gov.uk or telephone 01609 533621. They will work closely with your care co-ordinator to give you as much help as possible. Your discussions with the support service are completely confidential.

Charges you may have to pay for social care services

You will have to pay for some social care services you receive in the community or in social care housing, but others may be free or at a reduced level, depending on your financial circumstances.

The amount you have to pay is determined through a financial assessment. Information and advice is available to help you plan for the cost of your social care.