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Personal budgets and Direct payments

Direct payments

Direct payments are payments we make to you so you can arrange the care and support we have agreed you need.

You can arrange and pay for your own care and support instead of us doing it for you.

Who can get direct payments

If you're aged 18 and over, and already getting support from us, you can ask for direct payments. Ask your social care worker for information and advice.

If you're not already getting support from us, you can contact us to discuss your care and support needs. The discussion will identify whether you do need care and support and how these needs could be met.

For Adult Social Care contact details and to find out more about what help and support is available, visit our get social care help page.

Carer's direct payments

Your carer can also get direct payments. Find out how your carer can get support so they can continue caring for you.

Before you get direct payments

You or your legal representative need to sign an agreement (PDF, 405KB) to say that you understand the terms and conditions of the direct payments.

How direct payments are paid to you

You can choose from the following.

Pre-paid card

The card is like a debit card which you can use to pay for your care and support. You will receive the money as monthly payments.

Read our guide to find out more about pre-paid cards (PDF, 164KB)

Watch our video about pre-paid cards.

This video explains what a pre-paid card is.

This video explains how to get a pre-paid card.

Bank account

You must open a dedicated bank account for the direct payments and manage the money yourself. You will receive the money as monthly payments.

Payroll support

A company (contracted by us) will manage your direct payments on your behalf.

Find out about Purple, the company we currently use.

Your social care worker will go through these options with you when you agree your care and support plan.

Using direct payments

You can only use direct payments to pay for the care and support we have agreed in your care and support plan.

You can’t use it for anything we haven’t agreed to, such as administration costs associated with direct payments. This is set out in your care and support plan.

Employ someone to care for you

You can use your direct payments to employ a personal assistant or a carer to support you. This gives you more control over the help you get.

As an employer, you have legal and financial responsibilities to the people you employ. You are responsible for:

  • recruitment and pay
  • paying National Insurance and Income Tax
  • issuing contract of employment and having performance and disciplinary arrangements
  • arranging Employers' liability insurance
  • pay and manage maternity or paternity leave, and sick leave

If you want to employ your own carer or personal assistant, Purple can help you with recruitment and employment issues.

Pay a care agency

You can pay a care agency to get a carer to look after you. This means less control over the help you get but the agency will arrange everything for you.

Get more information and advice on paying a care agency.

Pay for other services to meet your eligible need

You can use your direct payments to pay for other services we have agreed in your care and support plan. For example, equipment and adapting your home to help with everyday life.

Your social care worker will go through these options with you when you agree your care and support plan.

Reviewing your direct payments

We will review your care and support plan and direct payments every year, or as we think necessary, to make sure this is working well for you. This is set out in your direct payments agreement.

We will ask you to show your records of how you’ve spent the direct payment money. This could be:

  • bank statements
  • invoices and receipts
  • payroll records

Your social care worker will be in touch when your annual review is due.

Suspend or end your direct payments

You can choose to end direct payments at any time if:

  • you're no longer able to manage the direct payments
  • you no longer need the care and support

We will suspend or end your direct payments if:

  • you're using your direct payments for anything other than what we agreed
  • you're assessed to no longer need the care support your direct payment is used for
  • we consider the direct payment is not suitable to meet your needs

If your direct payments are suspended or ended, we will still arrange your care and support to make sure your assessed eligible needs are met.

Contact the Direct Payments Team

Get in touch if you have any queries about your direct payments.

Email: DirectPayments.FinancialPayments@essex.gov.uk
Telephone: 0345 603 7630
Textphone: 0345 758 5592

You can also write to us at:
Freepost RTKH-XUBZ-CJZS
Essex County Council
Direct Payments Team
County Hall
Chelmsford
CM1 1QH

More information

GOV.UK for the Care and support statutory guidance on direct payments 2014 (chapter 12)

NHS guidance on direct payments and personal budgets.

HomecareDirect helps people take control of their own care and support.

Age UK offers information and advice on personal budgets.

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