Direct payments for adults and older people

What are Direct Payments?

If you are assessed as being eligible for some Council funding toward the cost of your care, you can choose to take this funding as a cash payment. This is called a Direct Payment.

Am I eligible?

Direct Payments are available to people who qualify for support from us and who are either:

We will carry out an assessment, then find out what you want to achieve. We will then look with you at the ways your needs could be best supported. This will be written down in a document called a support plan. We will allocate you a level of budget that is calculated be enough to meet your level of needs, this is referred to as a Personal Budget. Your Personal Budget will be made up of the amount we financially assess you as being able to cover yourself plus any contribution the Council might make.

You can take some, or all of your Council contribution to your personal budget as a Direct Payment to organise services yourself. If you are unable to do this you can ask us to arrange services for you.

How do you work out my personal budget?

We will ask you to complete a financial assessment. We will work out the likely cost of your assessed needs and how much we can provide towards it. This is called a personal budget.

How can I use Direct Payments?

  • You must use Direct Payments to meet the needs and things you want to achieve written down in your support plan.
  • You must spend your Direct Payments lawfully and in a cost-effective way.

    Direct Payments cannot be used for:

    • anything not agreed in your support plan
    • paying a family member or partner living at the same address
    • purchasing any local authority in-house services, including transport
    • purchasing equipment or services provided by health services
    • purchasing any housing service or residential care

The law allows us to ask you to repay Direct Payments if they have been used for any of the five items above.

Receiving Direct Payments - prepaid card

Your Direct Payment can now be loaded onto a prepaid card. A prepaid card is like a debit card, but you use it to receive and spend your Direct Payments. You will not normally be able to withdraw cash. If you need to make a contribution towards the cost of your care, you can also easily pay this on to a prepaid card.

Prepaid cards have several benefits:

  • you will not need to set up a separate bank account to receive your Direct Payments
  • you can get a prepaid card even if you don't have a bank account, or have a poor credit history
  • you can access your account online at any time
  • most prepaid card users do not need to provide monitoring information such as receipts or bank statement
  • there is less risk of fraud, or you having to repay money because you have lost a receipt

Our prepaid cards provider is Allpay Limited.

If you need any help with the setting up of your online account or activating your card you can get in touch with Allpay themselves as we have the use of their contact centre to help you.

You can contact Allpay on 0330 135 9515 or e-mail

Who can advise and support me?

You may use any payroll service provider to help you meet your employer obligations with HMRC within your budget, and ensure that you pay your personal assistant correctly.

People Plus Group is contracted to provide a Direct Payments support service in Cambridgeshire. PCVS is contracted to provide a Direct Payments support service in Peterborough. They will meet with you and provide a free Direct Payments information and advice visit and can help you with:

  • financial management and record keeping.
  • effective use of banking facilities.
  • financial monitoring requirements.
  • help with the legal and practical issues of hiring a personal assistant.
  • advice in setting up emergency procedures and back-up cover.

People Plus Group/PCVS can also assist you with recruitment and employment issues.

In addition to People Plus Group/PCVS, there are other payroll service providers available.

Some of these include:

Supported accounts

You can arrange to have your Direct Payments paid into a Third Party Supported Account managed by People Plus Group/PCVS on your behalf. This means People Plus Group/PCVS carry out financial transactions on your instructions, pay wages directly into your care or support workers’ bank accounts and provide you with a monthly statement of your account. There is an administration charge for payroll services and Third Party Supported Accounts. If you have been assessed as needing support to manage your Direct Payments account the charge can be paid from your Direct Payments.

Using your Direct Payments to pay a personal assistant

Some people use Direct Payments to employ their own staff (personal assistants) to provide care and support. We highly recommend you seek independent advice on how to use your Direct Payments. PeoplePlus, PCVS or another Direct Payments Support Service will be able to assist you with arranging a personal assistant and any issues related with this..

They can help you with parts of your support plan such as:

  • personal care (e.g. washing and dressing)
  • household tasks
  • activities outside the home, such as taking you to appointments and community events.

If you wish to employ your own care or support worker, People Plus Group/PCVS can assist you with recruitment and all employment issues.

If you choose to manage this yourself, it is your responsibility to be aware of, and adhere to current employment laws and register with HMRC as an employer.

If you fail to meet your obligations as an employer, your Direct Payments may be ended. Some people prefer to use private care agencies as this provides some control without the added responsibilities of employing staff. You must be certain that the amount of Direct Payments you receive cover agency fees or be willing to make up the difference yourself.

We do not encourage using Direct Payments to pay self-employed carers. However, many people recommend the flexibility and continuity that being an employer can bring, when supported by People Plus Group or PCVS (see contact details below).

Using Direct Payments to buy support from companies

Independent providers are companies that provide services such as home care, respite care or day care.

This option means that you get to choose which company will provide you with care and support, rather than us choosing the company for you. You can also have more control over when your care is provided.

If you use your Direct Payments to pay a provider, we will always want to be sure that you are using a provider who offers a good standard of care and is registered with the Care Quality Commission. Your Key Worker can tell you about the range of providers in your area or you can find care services on NHS Choices.

Direct Payments for equipment

Your assessment may show that you need a further assessment by an Occupational Therapist to identify what sort of equipment will help you live more independently. Direct Payments for this equipment are a separate one-off payment.

Planning for emergencies

If you receive Direct Payments, it is vital that you make arrangements to meet any emergencies; for example, if one of your personal assistants/support workers can't work.

Your Key Worker will discuss your emergency arrangements before your Direct Payments are agreed and can give you a list of agencies who can help you in an emergency.

If your emergency plans break down, the Council is responsible for arranging services for you to cover the emergency. You should contact your Key Worker or Customer Services.

How do I apply for Direct Payments?

If you would like to try Direct Payments, you should talk it over with your Key Worker and with People Plus Group/PCVS.

People who lack the mental capacity to express their wishes or preferences about the support they receive can arrange for their personal budget to be paid to a suitable authorised person. This is a trusted person who will make decisions about how the Direct Payments are best used. This can be especially useful for people with severe learning disabilities, head injuries or dementia.

Other options allow individuals to nominate an authorised person to manage payments on their behalf, or to request that the local authority continues to manage the money in accordance with the support plan.

We must be sure that it would be in their best interests to have Direct Payments and that the authorised person will act properly.

Exclusions for Direct Payments

Some people are excluded from receiving Direct Payments by legislation. This includes people who are subject to compulsory measures of care under mental health and criminal justice legislation.

Setting up your Direct Payments

You will be required to sign an agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of Direct Payments.

You will need a separate bank account specifically for your Direct Payments, this is so that you can easily show how the money is being used and that it is in line with your agreed support plan.

Your Key Worker can explain your agreement to you to make sure that you understand it before you sign it and explain more about setting up a bank account or you can use our contracted Direct Payments support services, People Plus Group and PCVS.

Personal Health Budgets

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support your health and wellbeing needs, which is planned and agreed between you (or someone who represents you), and your local NHS team. You can find out more about personal health budgets on NHS.Uk website.

In Cambridgeshire, you can ask for information and advice on both Personal Health Budgets and Personal Budgets (including Direct Payments) from People Plus, by contacting them on or 0330 123 2815.

In Peterborough, you can learn more about Personal Health Budgets from PCVS, via or 01733 342 683.

Information on carers, direct payments and COVID-19

Disclosure and Barring Service checks for Personal Assistants survey

We are looking at our guidance on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for Personal Assistants (PAs) paid from a direct payment and would be interested in your views about this.

Direct Payments support services (information and guidance)

In Cambridgeshire:

People Plus Group
Telephone: 0330 123 2815

In Peterborough:

Telephone: 01733 342683 or 01733 311016