Acting as an Authorised Person
Direct Payments are available to people who lack the mental capacity to decide about having a direct payment, if care professionals agree it is in their best interests to have one. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) sets out what care professionals must take into account when considering a person’s mental capacity, and what is in their best interests.
What is an authorised person?
An authorised person, is someone who manages a direct payment on behalf of someone with eligible care and support needs, who lacks mental capacity. This could be a friend or family member. An authorised person who receives a direct payment is legally responsible for managing it, and for complying with all the obligations that come with having a direct payment.
An authorised person is usually already appointed as a representative for the person with needs, for example someone with:
- Registered Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for ‘Property and Affairs’ or ‘Personal Welfare’
- Registered Enduring Power Attorney (EPA)
- Court of Protection Deputyship.
This does not include ‘appointeeship’ from the Department of Work and Pensions.
Where no one is already appointed as a representative for the person with needs, we can consider if the person who wants to act as authorised person might be suitable to do so.
The details of an authorised person are recorded in the support plan of the person with needs. The authorised person is included in all reviews of the direct payment.
Making direct payments to an authorised person
We will only make direct payments to someone who wants to act as an authorised person where we think:
- a direct payment is an appropriate way to help the person with needs, and offers value for money
- making the direct payment in this way is in the best interests of the person with needs
- the person who wants to act as authorised person
- will act in the best interests of the person with needs, in arranging the care set out in their support plan
- is willing and able to manage the direct payments, with or without help
- is already appointed under the MCA, or if not, someone who is appointed under the MCA agrees the person is suitable and we also agree that they are
- there is no legal reason for us not to make the direct payment in this way.
When we decide whether someone is suitable to act as an authorised person (excluding those already legally appointed),we might ask them to give us information, or consult with others about them (such as anyone interested in the welfare of the person with needs), to help us make the decision, in their best interests.
In some cases we might recommend that an enhanced criminal record certificate is obtained. The cost of criminal record checks via the Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) will not generally be met by us or included in the direct payment amount.
Anyone who wants to be an authorised person must sign a direct payment agreement with us, agreeing to their responsibilities. You can read a standard version of the agreement on the direct payments page. Sometimes we work with the person who wants to act as authorised person to change the agreement slightly, to make sure it is right for individual situations. Care professionals will talk through the agreement first, before asking the person who wants to act as authorised person to sign it. Anyone who wants to act as an authorised person can seek independent advice if they want to.
Role and responsibilities of an authorised person
Because people who lack capacity to make their own decisions can be especially vulnerable, extra protections apply. The authorised person must act in the best interests of the person lacking capacity by:
- doing whatever they can to help or encourage the person to participate in decisions
- trying to identify and take into account all the things that the person would take into account if they were acting for themselves, including their past and present wishes and feelings and any beliefs and values likely to influence their decisions
- not making assumptions about what might be in the interests of the person solely on the basis of the person’s age, appearance, condition or behaviour
- consulting others when making decisions
- ensuring a record is kept of the process of working out the best interests of the person (for any major decisions)
- telling us if they think the person has regained the ability to make their own decisions.
The direct payment agreement sets out in detail what is expected of an authorised person. The authorised person must comply with this agreement. The agreement can be found on the direct payments page.
Key responsibilities of the authorised person include:
- acting in good faith, and taking proper care when acting for the person with needs
- checking that direct payment monies have been received from us, and are enough to meet the person’s needs
- arranging the help set out in the person’s support plan
- complying with any legal obligations that arise from the arrangements made using the direct payment
- keeping records of what is spent, and showing them to us if we ask
- joining in with our regular reviews of the direct payment, to check monies are properly being spent and the person’s needs are being met
- not spending the direct payment on anything illegal
- letting us know promptly if there are any changes in the person’s circumstances.
This is only a summary. Anyone who wants to act as an authorised person must read the agreement carefully before signing it. If there is anything they do not understand, they should ask the care professional working with them to explain.
Help for the authorised person
An authorised person can get help to manage the direct payments, if they need it. Care professionals can advise on the help available, such as payroll services, recruiting and managing personal assistants and undertaking DBS checks. If we agree that the authorised person needs help, the reasonable costs of the help will be included in the direct payment. We will agree what help the authorised person needs by recording it in the support plan.
Asking for a direct payment to be made
Someone who wants to act as an authorised person, can ask for a direct payment on behalf of the person with needs.
In most cases, the person who wants to act as authorised person will already be appointed as a representative of the person with needs, under the MCA. If not, and there is someone else who is appointed under the MCA, that person must support the request.
If the person with needs has a usual worker, the worker will be able to give advice. If the person doesn’t have a usual worker, contact the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 01472 256256 or for health direct payments contact the Continuing Healthcare HUB on 0300 330 2990.