Once you have had an assessment An assessment is a way of finding out what help a person needs. When you have an assessment, you might have to go to a meeting or fill in a form. , the local authority A local authority is also called a council A council is also called a local authority. They are a group of people who make decisions about some of the things in the area where you live. These include: schools, social care Social care means the services that give care and support to people who need it. (support for people), parks and dustbin collection. . They are a group of people who make decisions about some of the things in the area where you live like schools, social care (support for people), parks and dustbin collection. must set out how it will meet your eligible needs in a “care and support plan”.
Care and support plans
A care and support plan is a detailed document setting out what services will be provided, how they will meet your needs, when they will be provided, and who will provide them.
You are entitled to see a copy of your care and support plan and the local authority should make sure that you are happy with it before it is finalised.
Your plan should be reviewed regularly by the local authority once it is in place, at least once a year or more often if necessary. Your plan should always be reviewed if your circumstances change.
At the bottom of the care and support plan there must be a sum of money, called a “personal budget A budget is a plan where you look at how much money you have and how you will spend it. ”.
Adults with eligible needs can be given a personal budget by the local authority. The amount you get must be enough to meet ‘eligible’ needs and pay for all the services set out in your care and support plan.
The personal budget can be given to you in three different ways (or a combination of them):
- By services being provided directly by the local authority (such as the local authority giving you a placement at a day centre).
- By services being provided by an organisation An organisation are a group of people who work together. like a charity.
- By the provision of direct payments Direct payments are when the money for your care and support, or benefits, is paid to you. .
The Government The Government are the people who run the country. The Government decide how much tax people should pay and how things like the National Health Service (NHS) should work. says that local authorities must not use reviews of care and support to cut personal budgets without having a good reason. See our information on challenging a decision if your budget has been cut or if you are worried it is not enough to cover the costs of the support you need.
So in a nutshell, a personal budget is the amount of money you can get to pay for the care and support that meets your needs, whether this support is provided by the local authority or paid for by you using direct payments.
“Direct payments” are cash payments given directly to the person who needs care and support (or their family if the person lacks the capacity to manage their money themselves) so that they can choose what services to buy and organise their own support. This is an alternative to services being provided directly by the local authority or by another organisation like a charity.
You have a right to request a direct payment to buy the support or services set out in your care and support plan. And the council must say yes to this in most circumstances.
The idea is that disabled people and their families will have more choice and control over their own care by using direct payments. If you require support, this can mean employing carers directly. You can get help managing your direct payments by using local direct payment support services (DPSS), which are usually provided by local authorities and by user-led organisations.
Note – If you have health needs as well you may meet the criteria to be fully funded by health, or to be jointly funded by health and social care.
What can you spend your direct payments on?
For many people, their direct payments will be spent on employing support staff. This can be done by:
- directly employing personal support staff. Local authorities should ensure the direct payment covers the costs associated with directly employing support staff (e.g. National Insurance National Insurance is a type of tax Tax is the money that pays for things like schools, hospitals and the police. There are different types of taxes like income tax Income tax is the money that is taken out of the money you earn every month. It helps to pay for things we all need like hospitals and schools. , VAT VAT is also called Value Added Tax. VAT is the extra money you pay when you buy things. The money goes to the government to pay for things like schools and hospitals. and council tax Council Tax is the money that people pay to the council. It helps to pay for things like social care (support for people), parks and dustbin collection. . . It is money that is taken out of the money you earn each month. You pay National Insurance so that you can get a pension A pension is money you get when you are older to pay for the things you need. You can pay money into your pension when you are working so there is more money for when you are older. when you are older. , DBS checks, holiday pay and training costs).
- using a support provider. The provider will take on all the employment Employment means having a job. duties and responsibilities and include this in the amount it charges. Providers should work alongside you and when appropriate your family to make sure you are actively involved in recruitment, supervision of staff and identifying training needs.
Direct payments can also be used to buy equipment or adaptations that would otherwise have been provided by social services.
Examples of how you might use your direct payments:
- To pay someone to support you in a job.
- To pay someone to support you at college.
- To get support for you to take a short break.
- To get support for personal care.
- To get support for cooking or cleaning.
- To get support for leisure Leisure is when you have time to do things you enjoy like playing sports or going to the pub. time.
If you are not able to manage your direct payments yourself, you can ask a “suitable person” to do this for you. This could be a family member or friend.
You can use part of your direct payment to pay this person to help you with your direct payments.
You can ask your local authority if they have direct payments support services that can help you manage your budget, such as employing a personal assistant.
Support and advocacy to plan your care
The Care Act says that the care and support plan must be person-centred and person-led. If you have substantial difficulty in understanding how your care is being planned, someone close to you such as a family member should be involved to help you understand it. If there is no suitable person who can help you understand it, you are entitled to support from an independent advocate An advocate is a person who can help you have your say. An advocate can speak up for you if you find it hard. .
An advocate can support you to:
- understand what is happening
- understand your choices and make your own decisions
- tell others what you want and about your views and feelings
- make sure you get your rights Rights are the things everyone should be allowed to do like have a say, or go to school.
- make sure that documents say what you need them to say.
The Care Act brings in new rights to advocacy Advocacy is when you get support to have your say. in certain circumstances. Local authorities must provide independent advocacy to people who would have “substantial difficulty” in being involved in planning their care, and who have no-one suitable (e.g. a family member or friend) who can support them to be involved.
Substantial difficulty being involved means that they would have substantial difficulty in one or more of these areas:
- understanding information
- retaining information
- weighing up information
- communicating their views.
We've created the following factsheets to help you with the benefits application, Care Act assessment and follow-up process.
Delays in receiving benefits (PDF, 52 KB) - this factsheet explains the options that may be available to you whilst you're waiting for your first payment.
Mandatory reconsiderations (PDF, 48 KB) - this factsheet explains what to do if you wish to challenge a benefit decision.
Reasonable adjustments (PDF, 425 KB) - this factsheet explains what changes should be made by the Job Centre and DWP for people with a learning disability A learning disability is to do with the way someone's brain works. It makes it harder for someone to learn, understand or do things. who are looking to claim benefits.
What happens next (PDF, 367 KB) - this factsheet sets out what should happen after your Care Act assessment.
Reviews and new assessments (PDF, 219 KB) - this factsheet is for people who already receive care and support through a package of social care and what they can expect from the review and assessment process.
Direct payments (PDF, 72 KB) - this factsheet explains how people with a learning disability and their families can receive direct payments to arrange their social care support themselves.
How to get the support you need
Contact the Learning Disability Helpline, our advice and support line, for guidance Guidance means being given clear instructions to be able to do something well. and information about what support we can offer you.
Or why not take a look at our online community A community is the people and places in an area. ? This is a place for parents and family carers of people with a learning disability to share experiences, advice and support.