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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Direct payments for carers - arranging help and services

Direct payments are local council payments available for anyone who has been assessed as needing help from social services. You can normally get them if you are a carer aged 16 or over.

What direct payments can be used for

Direct payments can be used to buy services from an organisation or to employ somebody to provide assistance. As a carer, you can use a direct payment to purchase the services you are assessed as needing to support you in your caring role. This includes support that may help maintain your health and well-being. For example, driving lessons or a holiday so you can have time to yourself.

If you are assessed as needing domestic help, you may ask for a direct payment and buy the support services you need.

Direct payments - money from the local council to pay for care services - is not the same as Direct Payment - pensions and benefits paid directly into an account.

What direct payments cannot be used for

You cannot use direct payments to buy services for the person you care for. They can only be spent on getting the support you, as a carer, have been assessed as needing.

You also cannot use direct payments to secure a service from your spouse or civil partner, close relatives or anyone who lives in the same household as you, unless that person is someone who you have specifically recruited to be a live-in employee.

There can be exceptional circumstances, which your council may agree with you.

Eligibility

If you already receive social services

Your local council has to offer you the option of direct payments in place of the services you currently receive. Under some circumstances you cannot get direct payments. Your council will be able to tell you about these.

If you're not receiving social services

To get direct payments you will need to contact your local council to ask them to assess your needs.

Direct payments for disabled people

Direct payments are also available for disabled people who have been assessed as needing help from social services.

If you have parental responsibility for a disabled child, direct payments that can be used for a variety of services for your child can be made to you.

How much you can get

The amount you receive will depend on the assessment your local council makes of your needs. Direct payments are made directly into your bank, building society, Post Office or National Savings account.

Effect on other benefits

If you are receiving other benefits, then you must let each benefit provider know that you are also receiving Direct Payments. This applies when you are receiving a direct payment yourself and/or if you get a direct payment from the person you care for. Your benefits will then be assessed to see if the Direct Payment will affect what you are paid.

How to apply for direct payments locally

If you already get services from your local council, ask about direct payments. If you are applying for services for the first time, your local council social services department should discuss the direct payments option with you when they assess your needs.

The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more and/or apply online.

What to do if your circumstances change

If the needs of the person you care for change - for better or for worse, in the long or short term - contact your local council as soon as possible so that they can reassess the level of payments you require.

Families

Local councils can review direct payments as children's and families' needs change over time, just as they do when families are receiving services directly from a council.

Downloadable information booklets

The Department of Health has two  information booklets about direct payments. One of them is an easy read version. They can be downloaded from the Department of Health website or ordered over the telephone or online.

'A guide to receiving direct payments from your local council' (code 31006) is the name of the standard booklet.

The easy read booklet is called 'An easy guide to direct payments'  (code 33291).

If you order the easy read booklet over the telephone, you can ask for a pack which includes a book, a CD-ROM and an audio tape.

To order a copy of either publication, call the Department of Health publications orderline. Please quote the code number.

Telephone: 08701 555 455

Textphone: 08700 102 870

Lines are open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday

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