Direct payments allow people to receive money directly from their local authority, so they can pay for their own services and live more independently. Parents and carers, as well as someone with a learning disability, may be entitled to receive direct payments.
Not everyone will be offered direct payments. In order to receive them you must meet certain eligibility criteria, and you must have a Community Care Assessment that identifies the services you need. If you are eligible for the payments, you will then have the option to use the services provided by social services, or use the money provided by the local authority to buy your own services. You can also choose a combination of these two options.
For us, having control over our own finances through direct payments has made a big difference as it means we can decide what support we want for our
For some families, direct payments can provide a more flexible system that allows them to choose the right services and the right support for their son or daughter. Amongst other things, direct payments can be used to pay for a personal assistant, to employ someone to support your child at college or work, or to help them with cooking and cleaning.
After a Community Care Assessment you should be told if you are eligible to receive direct payments, or you can speak to your social worker or care manager for advice. In most cases, if you are assessed as eligible for services you should be entitled to ask to receive all or part of these services through direct payments.
Managing your direct payments
If you already receive direct payments but need help managing your money, it's a good idea to get professional advice.
Brokers specialise in helping people to organise and pay for the right support. For more information, you can visit the National Brokerage Network (NBN) website and search for a brokerage service in your area.
The National Centre for Independent Living website also has a list of all the support organisations around the country that offer support to people in managing their direct payments.
- Read the Mencap guide ‘Understanding community care assessments'