A ‘direct payment’ is money that is paid to an individual (or someone acting on their behalf) on a regular basis by the council so they can arrange their own support, instead of receiving social care services arranged by the council.
Direct payments confer responsibilities on recipients to decide how their eligible needs are met, either by employing people, often known as personal assistants, or by commissioning services for themselves. Service users can get support in fulfilling these responsibilities from direct payment support services commissioned by local authorities, often from user-led organisations. Like community care services, direct payments are means-tested so their value is dependent on a person’s income and assets as well as their eligible needs.
The National Personal Budget Survey found that outcomes were better where service users were informed about the value of their personal budget, fully involved in the support planning process, alongside family carers, relatively free of constraints and bureaucracy, and where they had a direct payment rather than a council-managed personal budget.
However, the number of people using direct payments appears to have stalled from 2010-12, according to the 2011 and 2012 surveys of progress on personal budgets by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.
The Direct Payments network brings together Direct Payments leads from all 14 councils. It meets every two months, in a variety of locations, hosted by the councils
Network members are committed to:
- Increasing the uptake of Direct Payments
- Addressing the barriers to uptake
- Promoting the development of the Personal Assistant workforce
The aims of the network are:
- To share ideas, experience and good practice
- To disseminate information both at the meetings and by email
- To raise the profile of Direct Payments and increase take-up, especially amongst older people
- To assist in improving performance on Direct Payments across the region
- To act as a professional support network
- To act collectively to raise issues at national level
- To increase consistency in practice and interpretation of national guidance across the region
- To act as a resource to other organisations and professions including ADASS and Children’s Services
- To keep updated and informed on the learning from elsewhere in the country and to adapt practice accordingly
A working group of Direct Payments leads reviewed regional Direct Payment Agreements between councils and Direct Payment recipients and accompanying factsheets with a view to agreeing an accessible, common format to increase the take up of Direct Payments in the region. These templates can be downloaded here.
The region’s work on producing Direct Payments Agreements and Factsheets has been included as a case study on the TLAP website.If you have examples of work on improving the delivery of Personal Budgets for older people (including people with dementia) that you can share, please contact Sue Williams.