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Direct Payments

What is a Direct Payment?

If you are eligible for support or care from us, you will be entitled to a personal budget. A personal budget is the amount of money the council says will be enough to pay for the help you need.

You may have to contribute to this amount – but only if you can afford to. You can find out more about this from your social care worker.

You may be happy to manage this money yourself to arrange and buy your own care and support. This is called a Direct Payment.

What’s good about having a Direct Payment?

Having a Direct Payment puts you in control of how you spend your budget. You can employ your own care worker (usually called a Personal Assistant) to provide the care and support you need. You can arrange care from any care agency you like. You can buy support and services from a whole range of people and companies offering a wide range of activities. You do not have to use companies who have a contract with the council.

You can also choose to put your own money into a Direct Payment so that you can buy services that cost more than the amount provided by us.

Is there anything I can’t use my Direct Payment for?

You must only use your Direct Payment to achieve the things written in your support plan, and there are some things you can’t use your Direct Payment for, such as:

  • Buying food, clothing or other general living expenses
  • Buying goods or services that are not part of the agreed care needs and outcomes in your support plan
  • Employing someone who lives with you, unless they are a live-in carer who is not a member of your family
  • Buying healthcare services
  • Buying services directly from the council, such as travel on a Dorset Travel bus
  • Paying to live in a care home - except for agreed respite stays

How do I get a Direct Payment?

If you already get care and support services from us, you can talk to your social care worker so that they know you are interested.

You can also ask about Direct Payments when you have an assessment. 

You will need to open a new bank account for your Direct Payment to be paid into. This account should only be used for paying for things that are agreed in your support plan.

We will pay our contribution to your personal budget into this account every two weeks. The money will be paid in advance of when you need to spend it.  You will need to pay your assessed contribution into this account.

If it’s difficult to open a new bank account, we can provide a bill-paying service. There would be a small charge for this service.

You will have to have a financial assessment to see if you can afford to pay for some of your care and support. If you do, you will need to pay this into your Direct Payment bank account.

What will I have to do?

There are some rules for having a Direct Payment. You will have to sign an agreement with us that you will stick to these rules. Your social care worker will be able to explain what these are

You must keep records of your spending including:

  • Keeping your receipts and invoices
  • Keeping records of wages, tax and national insurance if you directly employ a carer or personal assistant

You will have to send these records and bank statements to us at least once a year. We review these records to make sure the money is being spent on what is agreed in your support plan.

If you use a carer or personal assistant, you must follow employment law – including making sure the correct tax is paid. There are services that can help and advise you about this – your social care worker can explain what these are.

You can check with your social care worker if you want to spend the money on things that are not part of your support plan. They can help you decide if this will help you meet your agreed outcomes.

You must return any surplus money held within your Direct Payment bank account to the council - we will tell you how to do this.