A Personal Budget Direct Payment is a cash amount of money paid to an individual to help them budget and plan care identified in their Support Plan. The Support Plan identifies how the customer should spend their annual Personal Budget fund as agreed by Essex County Council.
- You must use a separate, dedicated bank account to receive your Personal Budget or you could receive funds onto a pre-paid card**
- Payments will be received on or around the 28th of each month; the money is paid in advance for the coming month.
- A financial assessment is required before payments can be made to determine how much (if anything) you have to pay towards your care – this is known as your ‘assessed charge’.
- Any ‘assessed charge’ is automatically taken from your payment; it is your responsibility to pay this directly toward your services.
- A financial assessment is not required if the recipient of the payment is being made to someone under 18 years of age.
- Audit checks are carried out following payments to ensure the funds are being used in accordance with your support plan.
- Cash payments from Essex County Council will not affect your benefits because they are not classified as income.
- A family member who does not live at the same address could be employed as a personal assistant, only under exceptional circumstances are they allowed to live at the same address but please discuss with your social worker in the first instance.
- Your social care worker has the responsibility to amend your package. The Payments Team are unable to adjust payments without receiving the appropriate authorisation from social services.
- Direct Payments can be paid directly to you to manage the funds yourself or they can be made to a third-party company which can manage the funds on your behalf.
- **Pre-Payment Card’ is an alternative to a dedicated bank account, onto which your payment funds will be loaded and can be recovered automatically where required. This can be discussed with your social worker.
For more information, see our guide on taking control with a direct payment.
The Review Process
As part of the terms and conditions of the Direct Payment scheme Essex County Council can at any point request copies of all financial records relating to your Direct Payment on request, such as bank statements for the account which the council pays the funds into and receipts/invoices that relate to expenditure. The review will also make sure that funds are used correctly and your needs are being met.
If a review identifies any surplus funds in your account this will be claimed back by Essex County Council unless prior agreement has been made to retain the money.
Essex County Council will allow up to eight weeks of payments to be kept in the account to cover any additional costs that may be incurred.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We do not make home visits to help with the completion of the forms.n