About direct payments

Direct payment funding offers greater flexibility, control to your social care funding. Direct payment funding enables you to choose who provides your services and how your needs are met. Direct payment funding allows you to purchase the support that meets your needs best.

Whilst having your social care needs assessed, you will be given the option of meeting your needs through:

  • a commissioned service (where we arrange the care directly on your behalf)
  • by Direct Payment funding
  • a mixture of both

Direct Payment funding allows you to purchase the services you need to achieve social care outcomes (results) that suits you best. For example, you can choose a:

  • care agency 
  • day care service yourself 
  • employ a personal assistant to support your needs (or those of the person you are representing)

Who direct payments are for

Direct payments could be for you if:

  • You want to retain or take control of your own care and support services and who provides them for you
  • You want more choice in selecting the products and services that meet your specific needs
  • You’re confident with money management and paperwork or have people you trust who can support you with this
  • You’re happy to keep receipts and invoices and submit these to our audit team upon request

How to apply

If you, or the person you are looking after, have been assessed as needing social care services support from us, you have the option of asking for Direct Payment funding.

Before you can ask about getting Direct Payment funding you will need to have a:

You can use an online Calculator to tell you how much you might be asked to contribute towards your care. Your Social Worker can refer you for a financial assessment. Or you can contact the financial assessment team directly on 0161 912 2106 or by email: financial.assessments@trafford.gov.uk.

We also have a glossary of terms that provide more details on different terms to help you with Direct payments.

Your social worker / care coordinator will make a referral to the Direct Payments Team and a support broker will then be in touch to advise you through the process.

Rules and guidelines

There is no definitive list of rules for everybody that says what you can and can't spend your direct payment on.

All support plans will be looked at on an individual basis, because what is right for you might not be right for other people. However, there are some basic requirements to be followed when deciding how you will spend your direct payment funding.

You must meet your social care needs and the outcomes [1] set out in your support plan. It must promote your best interests and should not negatively affect other people.

You need to tell us about any changes in circumstances such as hospital admissions.

Bank accounts

A separate bank account or pre-payment card account must be set up to administer your Direct Payment funding. Direct payment funding is not personal income and must not be mixed up with any other funding or income you may get.

Pay your Assessed Community Care Client Contribution Charge [3] (as advised from your completed financial assessment) regularly and compliantly into your direct payment account if applicable. We strongly advise that you are able to make and amend payments electronically from your personal account to your direct payment account. This can be online or by telephone banking.

Financial admin

Stick to your budget and be able to show value for money and positive outcomes and achievements. If your needs change, then contact our Social Care Team to request a reassessment.

Keep a record of your spending, we will help you to do this and perform regular audits on your direct payment account.  Providing a regular report of how your funding is managing and providing management advice. These audits will be completed regularly by our in house Direct Payment Audit Team, who are always on hand for any financial management advice you may need.

Work within employment law if you employ a personal assistant. We will help you to do this.

Direct payment amounts

The direct payment funding will be a calculated amount sufficient to meet the needs you, or the person you are looking after, have been assessed as having. It will be broken down into the amount we will fund, based on how you want your needs to be met.

If you have services provided directly by us or by Direct Payment Funding, you may have to pay towards the cost of your care provision. The amount you will need to contribute towards the cost of your care will be calculated through a Financial Assessment. This is based on your income and capital savings, and in some cases any assets you may have.

We have a standard hourly rate for care agencies, personal assistants and day care provision. If you choose to use a more expensive agency, above the standard hourly rate, you will need to “Top-Up” the difference. This is unrelated to the Assessed Community Care Client Contribution charge and is to be paid in addition..

Assessed Community Care Client Contribution Charge

If you choose to receive Direct Payment Funding, we will deduct the amount of your Assessed Community Care Client Contribution Charge from the calculated gross direct payment amount and pay the remaining net direct payment amount into your allocated direct payment account.

You will then need to pay your Assessed Community Care Client Contribution Charge into the same direct payment account on a regular basis to ensure the account contains sufficient funds to pay the whole of your care provision costs.

For a personal assistant

If the direct payment is being used to pay for a personal assistant, then the additional costs involved will be included in your gross direct payment funding amount to cover these additional hidden costs.

Additional costs can include:

  • accountancy
  • payroll charges
  • auto-enrolment pension costs
  • national insurance
  • income tax costs

How to manage a direct payment

Our direct payment funding is paid every four weeks, to a pre-arranged schedule.

An audit of your Direct Payment account will be regularly carried out to help ensure you are managing your Direct Payment funding appropriately as per your identified social care needs and outcomes.[1]

A Direct Payment Support Broker can help you or your suitable person manage your budget in accordance with employment law, and also Trafford Council’s direct payment contract, and government guidance.

Who can manage a direct payment 

Suitable person

If you have capacity, you can manage the direct payment yourself, becoming your own suitable person. [4]  However, you can nominate a family member or friend to manage the direct payment on your behalf. They would then become the suitable person.

Accountancy service

If you do not have family or friends that can manage the account and need help and support to manage your funding, the Direct Payment Brokerage Team can apply for extra funding to pay for that additional support from an accountancy service. They can then assist you in administrating the account, but allow you to retain control and responsibility over your direct payment funding and the management of your care provision.

Third-party agency

The Direct Payment Brokerage Team can apply for further funding to arrange for a third-party agency to assume the role of Direct Payment Suitable Person on your behalf. If you are unable to fully manage the direct payment funding yourself or if you may sometimes require support to manage your care provision.

What the payments can be spent on

You can be creative by thinking of new and different ways to spend your budget. However, you must spend in accordance with your approved support plan.

A Direct Payment Support Broker can help you use your funding more creatively and still meet your social care outcomes.

  • Employing a personal assistant
  • Using a homecare agency
  • Short break / respite
  • Accessing day services

What the payments cannot be spent on

Payments cannot be spent on:

  • anything illegal
  • anything that will disgrace the Council or bring it into disrepute
  • alcohol, food or drink
  • gambling
  • day to day things like utility bills or accessed community care client contribution charge
  • It cannot be used to employ close relatives living in your home (unless in exceptional circumstances).
  • You cannot use direct payments to pay for permanent residential accommodation, but you might be able to use them to pay for occasional short periods in residential accommodation if this is included in your support plan.

Employing a carer or personal assistant

If you use your direct payment to employ a carer, you’ll take on legal responsibilities as an employer. This means you will need to think about processing:

  • PAYE tax with the HMRC
  • National Minimum Wage
  • sickness and holiday pay
  • pension
  • Employers Liability Insurance

If that sounds a bit daunting, there are people and organisations that can help. There are local firms who offer payroll services who will help calculate any tax and National Insurance contributions ready for you to pay from your agreed budget.

To assist with the employment of a personal assistant, we have a PA Web, a platform where Social Care Personal Assistants can register their availability for work. Social Care users, in receipt of a Direct Payment can advertise their vacancies.

If you don’t want to take on the responsibility of becoming an employer, you can use a home care agency rather than employing someone yourself. They will deal with all the legalities of employment, including references and criminal checks, and invoice you directly.

Direct payment and benefits

Direct Payment funding is provided to purchase social care provision to meet your social care needs only. It is not considered as “income”, therefore, would not affect any benefits you may receive from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Empolying a personal assistant with your funding would mean they are employed by you so would be considered as earning an income. This would affect any benefits they may receive from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Who to contact

We are here to support you through the whole process of setting up and running your personal budget through Direct Payment Funding. The Direct Payment Team are available to provide guidance and further advice as and when needed.

Direct Payment Support Brokers

Direct Payment Audit Team