Using the information from the personal budget, people can ask the local authority for a direct payment.
This is a cash payment to the individual by the local authority, to give the person control over how money is spent to meet their needs. The local authority must provide it to someone who meets the conditions, unless the Act or regulations state otherwise.
Direct payments provide independence, choice and control by enabling people to commission their own care and support in order to meet their eligible needs.
The draft guidance on direct payments, together with the draft Care and Support (Direct Payments) Regulations 2014, cover:
- making direct payments available, and circumstances in which the local authority may not make direct payments
- steps following a request to receive direct payments, and specific steps for people who lack mental capacity
- administering direct payments, and conditions which apply to making the payments
- using the direct payment
- reviewing direct payment
- how to discontinue direct payments
We have proposed relaxing the existing exclusion around paying family members for managing a direct payment on behalf of the person with care and support needs. This means people will be able to pay a family member living in the same household for management/administration of the direct payment. This should not increase the size of the personal budget, but instead allow for some of this amount to be spent in this way.
This is intended to help people manage direct payments, especially in large packages of care and support. It may increase take-up of direct payments by incentivising family members who were previously put off by complex administration tasks, as these may now be recognised financially.
Respond to question 44 below.
We have also proposed reducing the mandatory review of direct payments from 12 months to 6 months. This was because we heard that many local authorities conduct this review early to ensure that the person is managing the payment appropriately. Additionally, we felt that it was important to reduce this timeframe if more people would be using direct payments in future due to easing the family member restriction.
Respond to question 45 below.
We have also made clear in the regulations that a person should not be subjected to excessive monitoring of the payment by the local authority, and the local authority must not dictate that the direct payment should be used with a particular provider. This freedom of choice has always been a policy intention, and we have now taken the opportunity to make this clear in regulations.
Respond to question 46 below.