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Direct payments

What are direct payments?

If you receive community care services from the Council, you can choose to have cash payments to arrange your own help instead of getting services organised by social services. These payments are called direct payments.

Direct payments enable people who receive community or social care services to have more independence, choice and control over when, where and how they receive those services.

Can I take part in the direct payment scheme?

You may be able to get direct payments if you are 16 and over and have been assessed as needing a community care service. You will also need to show you are willing and able to manage a direct payment (with help if needed). Those who may be eligible for direct payments include:

Older and disabled people including people with:

  • a physical disability
  • a sensory impairment
  • a learning disability
  • HIV/Aids
  • mental ill health (exclusions relate to being held under the Mental Health Act)

Carers may also be able to get direct payments to pay for services they are eligible for, so they can carry on in their caring role.

This applies to:

  • carers of disabled children including parents or others with personal responsibility assessed as needing a service
  • young carers who are 16 or 17 years old
  • an adult carer of an adult  who has a disability or who is eligible for services

What can direct payments be used for?

You can buy services to meet needs you have been assessed for which can include:

  • personal care – including help with washing, dressing and eating meals
  • practical care such as shopping and help preparing meals
  • short-term break (respite care)
  • day time activities
  • transport costs
  • providing special equipment

What can I spend the money on?

You must use the money to meet your assessed needs.

You can use the money to employ a personal assistant or choose to use an agency to provide staff for you directly. You can ‘mix and match’ and have some of your support provided by Community Services and take some as a direct payment.

If you employ a personal assistant, we will pay a fixed hourly rate for the hours you have been assessed as needing support for. If you have complex needs that can only be satisfied if you get more money, we will look at that too and make reasonable adjustments.

We will pay a one off start up cost to help with expenses such as advertising and purchasing employer’s liability insurance.

Who can I employ as a personal assistant?

You can employ friends or a close relative who would not normally live in your home. Employing a friend or close relative who lives in your home will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances where the council is satisfied it is necessary to meet your meets.  If however if you do not have anybody in mind you could always advertise and recruit.

What will I be responsible for?

You will have responsibilities if you decide to receive a direct payment and these will include:

  • opening a separate bank or building society account with a cheque book
  • recruiting and employing workers
  • organising and managing your own worker(s)
  • purchasing your support from an agency of your choice and paying the invoice when received
  • keeping financial records and submitting returns to the council for monitoring purposes every three months

If you are employing people directly you will need to be a good employer and abide by employment law and regulations.

Can I get help with managing direct payments?

Our direct payments support service offers a range of advice and information on ways of managing direct payments. We can help you to recruit and advertise for staff, employ workers including writing contracts and job descriptions and choosing a payroll service.

We can also put you in touch with an advocacy service which can provide additional advice and support. A key condition of direct payments is that you are in control of decision making and that responsibility for making sure the payments are managed properly lies with you.

Will it affect my benefits?

Direct payments are not a social security benefit and therefore will not affect any means tested benefit you are entitled to. They are not taxable. Some clients may need to contribute  towards the services they receive through The Fairer Charging Scheme and this will be discussed at your assessment.

How do I go about getting direct payments?

If you currently receive social care services from the Council, speak to your social worker or care manager.

After your needs have been assessed, our staff will talk to you about whether or not direct payments is suitable for you. If you decide you would like a direct payment your care manager will make a referral to Hackney direct payment support service on your behalf. A support officer will than contact you to discuss setting up your direct payments.

If you do not currently receive a care package from us you will need to contact us and ask about having an assessment. If you care for a child with a disability please contact us.

Page updated on: 8 July 2019

Direct Payments Support Service


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY

Opening times

  • Mon to Fri: 9am - 5pm