Direct payments

If you are eligible for care and support under the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, the money can be paid straight to you to help you take more control and make decisions about how it is spent. This is known as a direct payment.

The amount of money allocated is decided by us once a needs assessment has been completed. During the needs assessment, we will work with you to find out;

  • what kind of care and support you need to meet the agreed outcomes or goals
  • how much the care and support will cost
  • how much you are able to afford as a contribution towards the cost

If you are a carer, you may be entitled to receive a direct payment after having a carer needs assessment to see what might help make your life easier.

Find out more about carers needs assessments.

Needs assessments are free and anyone aged 18 or over can ask for one. Please contact our Single Point of Access Team to find out more.

Direct payment options

You decide how you wish to manage your support budget by choosing any of the following four options:

  • Direct payment: we pay you or your representative a sum of money and you choose how it is managed to provide you with care and support.
  • Council managed services: you ask us to arrange and review your care and support on your behalf.
  • A combination of direct payments and council managed services: you or your representative chose to manage your funds in a number of different ways, e.g. half of your care and support is managed by us and you manage the other half through a direct payment
  • Third party managed services: you or your representative ask an approved organisation to manage your care and support on your behalf.

Eligibility

You can read about assessment and eligibility in the leaflet: How do I access care and support in North Wales?

How Do I Access Care and Support in North Wales? (PDF, 991KB)

You will have a ‘What Matters’ conversation with one of our representatives, to discuss your care and support needs and this will identify care and support that could be funded by us.

How is my care and support planned?

Following your conversation with us, you will be provided with information, advice and assistance. You may also be asked to work with us to agree a care and support plan for you and/or your carer.

Care and Support planning often involves representatives from other organisations such as the NHS and local care and support providers and this results in what is called a Care and Support Plan.

Your care and support plan is a formal agreement between you, us and any other organisations involved in your care and support. This includes:

  • what is important to you and the outcomes you wish to achieve
  • the likely value of your support budget
  • how you would like to manage your support budget
  • how your care and support will be provided
  • how your care and support will be managed
  • how your care and support plan will be reviewed

If we manage your money

The money in your personal care and support fund will be spent for you by us. We will arrange all your care and support based on your agreed care and support plan.

We still need to check you're happy with the care and support we're arranging for you.

If your money is paid to another approved organisation

The organisation you choose, such as your care provider, will speak to the council and arrange the payments.

Sometimes other organisations charge you extra money to arrange payments from the council.

The benefits of direct payments

Direct payments give you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided.

For example, you could choose to hire care workers or personal assistants who:

  • are always the same people and available when you need them
  • speak the same language as you
  • have experience working with your care and support needs
  • are a specific person that has been recommended to you
  • can help you get to shops or social events

There are many ways you could choose to use the money. It's your choice as long as you're spending your direct payment on things that meet your agreed care and support plan.

You may need to provide evidence of how you've spent your money every 3 months.

When to consider other options

You may decide direct payments are not helpful for you if:

  • you're worried about managing money or the people you employ
  • you spend a lot of time in hospital
  • you would rather the council arranged your care

If you're not confident about keeping records or managing the people who care for you, the council should be able to provide support.

You could also consider having someone else manage your direct payments, for example a friend or family member. You'll need to set up a trust for payments that are managed by someone else.

The Money Helper has information about setting up a trust (external website).

How to apply for direct payments

You will be offered direct payments as an option after your needs assessment.

You can also ask our social services department about direct payments by contacting SPoA.

How direct payments work

If you choose direct payments, the council will send you the money in your personal care and support fund by either:

  • sending you a pre-paid card
  • paying it directly into a bank, Post Office, building society or National Savings and Investments account

You can then choose how you spend the money on your own care and support, as long as it matches the care and support plan you’ve agreed with the council.

Signing a direct payment agreement

The council will ask you to sign a document called a direct payment agreement. This says:

  • how the council want you to record your spending – for example, keeping receipts
  • your responsibilities as an employer - if you're paying for a care worker

If you spend direct payments on something that isn't agreed in your care plan, the council could take the money back or end the direct payments.

If you’re struggling to manage your money

Ask the council for advice or contact Money Helper (external website).

If you want someone else to receive the direct payment

You should speak to the council and agree for the money to be sent to someone who will spend it for you. For example:

  • a carer
  • a friend or family member
  • someone else who speaks up for you (an advocate)

You may need to write down how they will spend the money and which decisions they can make for you.

Employing your own carer or personal assistant

If you decide to hire a carer or personal assistant yourself, it's important to know the responsibilities you'll have as an employer.

Although support from the council should be available through our Independent Living Team, you may need to arrange:

  • background checks or references
  • tax
  • National Insurance
  • pension contributions

Read more about employing someone to work in your home (external website) on GOV.UK.

Disability Rights UK also have more information on getting a personal assistant (external website)

Hiring care workers through an agency

You could choose to hire care workers through an agency instead. This removes the legal obligations of being an employer, but could:

  • cost you more money
  • remove some of the benefits - such as having the same person to provide your care

Read more about getting help from a paid carer or personal assistant (external website) from NHS UK but be aware this article covers England, so there are a few differences in Wales.

How to research a care agency

When choosing an agency, decide what sort of service you're looking for and the tasks you need help with. It's a good idea to contact more than one agency, as they may offer different types of services.

You can find out about local home care agencies by:

There are also organisations that inspect care agencies to see how well they are doing. Care Inspect Wales (CIW) regulates all adult social care in Wales.

You could also search for care services on the CIW website (external website) to see their full reports on different providers.

How to complain about personal budgets

It's worth speaking to social services before making an official complaint to see if they can help.

You still have to the right to complain if you:

  • have been told you're not eligible to receive money towards your care and support
  • don't agree with the amount of money in your personal care and support budget

You could either:

If you're not happy with the council's response

Contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (external website). They investigate all adult social care complaints.

More information

Contact us

You can contact SPoA for help or advice by:

  • Phoning 0300 4561000 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, and between 10am and 4pm at weekends and Bank Holidays (except Christmas Day and Easter Sunday). If you need to speak to a duty social worker in an emergency outside of these hours, you can phone 0345 053 3116 (calls to this number cost you 2 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge)
  • Contacting SPoA online