Personal budgets

Direct payments

What a direct payment is

A direct payment is one of the ways you can choose to receive your personal budget.

We give you your direct payment for you to arrange your care and support yourself, instead of us doing it for you.

Ideas of what to use direct payments for

Everyone's needs are different. So there is not a definitive list of what you can and cannot use a direct payment for.

But, the money must be spent on meeting the outcomes set out in your care plan.

Examples of what direct payments can be used for:

  • employing a personal assistant/s
  • purchasing services from an agency or from a Community Micro-enterprise
  • support to get out and about, to see friends or family
  • short breaks or replacement care
  • community activities, joining local groups, staying healthy, hobbies, following interests
  • equipment
  • paying for transport and travel costs, if this is included in your support plan

Examples of what direct payments cannot be used for:

  • healthcare that the NHS should fund, such as registered nursing care at home
  • long-term residential care
  • anything illegal
  • gambling
  • everyday living costs that should be met by the person, such as bills or rent
  • debts
  • employing family members living in the same house as you. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to do this if arranged in advance

How you receive your money

You can choose to receive direct payments by either a:

  • PrePaid Card
  • bank account used specifically for the Direct Payment
  • nominated account with Purple, who can manage the budget on your behalf

How PrePaid Cards work

A PrePaid Card works like a debit card. Essex County Council will load money directly onto the card. If you need to contribute money towards your care, you will need to add it to this card too.

You can watch a video about how PrePaid Cards work on YouTube

Your responsibilities

If you receive direct payments, you must:

  • have a plan for how you will spend the money to meet your needs in line with your support plan
  • let us know of changes you need to make to the plan
  • look after the money carefully and to keep good financial records
  • send in monitoring information as agreed and take part in reviews
  • be a good employer and make sure your arrangements are in line with employment law and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • give us any money back that isn’t needed. (This is often called Surplus Funds)
  • not spend the money on illegal things

Contact the direct payments Team

Telephone: 0345 603 7630
Textphone: 0345 758 5592



Essex County Council
Direct Payments Team
County Hall

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