What are Direct Payments?
Direct payments are funds which are given to an individual from their local
authority so that they purchase and manage their own support services rather than
having these services delivered directly. This could mean someone employing a
Personal Assistant (PA), engaging a care agency or purchasing respite care that
enables them to live in the community with support.
Direct payments are an alternative to other Social Services care provisions
such as home care and day care, etc. and are about empowering disabled people
to have more choice, take more control of their lives and to make more of the
decisions that affect how they live.
They enable disabled people to secure assistance with daily living at times
and on occasions of their choosing both within and outside of their home, and
can help individuals with support needs to remain in their own home rather than
entering residential care.
Anyone who has been assessed by Social Services as being eligible to receive
community care services has the option to request, or to have some someone request
on their behalf, to receive direct payments instead of services arranged directly
by the local authority.
What can Direct Payments be used for?
The funds from direct payments can be used in a variety of ways:
- They can be used to employ personal assistants who provide
support with daily living. The recipient of the direct payment, as their employer,
needs to be aware of any relevant employment law and to ensure that these obligations
- People may choose to purchase services from an agency of their choice,
providing they are registered with the Care and Social Services
Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW)
It is possible to have a mixed package of care using both PAs and an agency or combining
direct payments with other Social Services provisions to meet individual needs.
Direct payments cannot be used to purchase residential services or services directly
from the local authority.
There are some limitations to the availability of direct payments as the person in receipt
of the payments, or someone on their behalf, must be able to take on the responsibility of
managing the support arrangements.
Direct payments are voluntary, so no-one can be forced to receive them, and can be provided
as an ongoing service or on a temporary or short-term basis as needed.
The direct payments scheme was made possible by the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996,
which gave local authorities the discretion to make cash payments directly to those who need
community care services.
The basis for direct payments is the concept of living an independent lifestyle based
upon the social model of disability which recognises that people are disabled by barriers
in society, e.g. the accessibility of buildings or the attitudes of others, rather than
by an impairment itself.