Direct Payments – My payments and affect on benefits

Will I need to pay anything myself and will it affect any benefits I receive?

Charges for adult social care

Although continuing healthcare (CHC) and some mental health aftercare services are free, all adult social care services are chargeable. The amount charged for social care depends on individual circumstances and is calculated after a financial assessment. The amount of direct payment we pay you will be reduced by the amount we assess you can afford to pay towards your social care costs. This amount is known as your assessed client contribution.

You will receive a letter from the focus community care finance team confirming what your assessed client contribution will be. It is important that you pay your contribution into the direct payment account regularly, so that you have enough money to pay for the care agreed in your support plan.

Changes to your circumstances

It is important that you tell the community care finance team straight away about any change of financial circumstances. This may include an increase/ decrease or other change in any benefits, savings, income and expenses that are included in your financial assessment. If you don’t tell us about a change of circumstances within one month from the date it happens, you may end up having to pay a large bill at a later date. Any increase in benefit will be taken into account from the date it was awarded.  This may result in a backdated charge.

Buying additional or higher cost services

You can only spend your direct payment on meeting the needs that we have agreed in your support plan.

If you want to choose help that we think is more than you need, you will need to pay for the extra costs from your own funds. Your direct payment will not include any more money than we think you need.  For example:

  • if you employ a personal assistant (PA) we generally only include an amount in your direct payment to pay the PA at the minimum wage. If you want to pay your PA more than that, you will need to pay the extra costs from your own funds
  • if you want more hours of care or to pay for more help than we think you need, you will need to pay for the extra care from your own funds
  • if you want to buy help to manage your direct payment that is more expensive than we think is necessary, you will need to pay for the higher cost service from your own funds. This might happen where, for example, you want to employ an accountant to manage the payroll for your personal assistant, instead of using a support organisation which offers better value.      

Any extra costs you choose must be paid in addition to your assessed client contribution. Before agreeing to pay extra costs, you should consider whether you can afford and keep up the payments.

Direct payments and your benefits

Direct payments are not taken into account when income related social security benefits are calculated or when maintenance is calculated under the child support formula. Direct payments are not treated as taxable income by HM Revenue and Customs (the tax man’). However, household benefits may be affected if we have agreed with you that a family member can be employed and paid from your direct payment.