Direct payments

Coronavirus update

We are working with key partners to ensure that people with a direct payment and/or a personal health budget are supported during the coronavirus pandemic. 

These strong partnerships have allowed us to respond quickly and make changes where needed. 

These changes include:

  • increases to all direct payments by 10% to allow for a contingency budget.
  • additional flexibility for direct payment recipients to amend their support package
  • the option to employ family members

Support is also available to direct payment recipients to access personal protective equipment (PPE) if it’s needed. 

All direct payment recipients will receive a letter informing them of these changes and the support available. They have also been issued a letter for their personal assistants and carers to identify as key workers 

Please visit our key partners’ websites, REAL and PeoplePlus, for more useful resources including information sheets and important updates.

The Department of Health and Social Care have published detailed guidance for people who receive support via direct payments and personal health budgets. For more information please read Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for people receiving direct payments.


Direct payments are cash payments made to people who have been assessed as needing social care services from us.

Having a Direct Payment means you are able to arrange your own services or support, you have more freedom, choice and control as you can decide how your needs are met. You can be creative in your thinking on how your budget is used.

If you already receive support from the council and would like to apply for a direct payment, contact the Direct Payment Support Service and let them know that you're interested in receiving a direct payment for your social care needs.

Who can get a Direct Payment?

You can receive direct payments if you're 16 or over, and assessed by the council as needing social care services. For children, visit our children's section for more information.

People caring for someone (carers) who need social care may also be entitled to a direct payment in their own right. Visit our carers section for more information.

What Direct Payments can be used for

You can use direct payments to pay for goods and services identified in your support plan.

There isn't a specific list of goods or services which you can buy to meet your needs.

One of the benefits of using direct payments is that you have the chance to choose less traditional services. For example, you might choose to use your direct payment for support with:

  • personal care
  • getting out and about in the community
  • maximising your independence and well being
  • employing a personal assistant 

Are there any other rules and options I should know about?

There are a number of rules around direct payments. These set out how an amount is calculated, how direct payments can be used, and how they are monitored once it's set up.

Direct Payments cannot be used to:

  • employ a relative or partner who lives in your home, apart from in exceptional circumstances.
  • purchase permanent residential care, but you can use it to pay for short breaks as part of your assessed care needs.

More information

If you get council-funded support at the moment and are interested in getting a Direct Payment:
You can contact the member of staff (e.g. a Social Worker) or team who last set up or reviewed your support. Contact the Initial Assessment team on 020 7364 5005 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri) if you are not sure where to start.

Support for people receiving Direct Payments

You can get support to manage your Direct Payment including:

  • support to set up your payments
  • ongoing help to manage your money and using it in the most effective way

You may choose to employ your own worker (Personal Assistant).  If you choose this, People Plus can help you to recruit the right person and understand your responsibilities as an employer.

You may choose to pay a care agency, day centre or other provider.  People Plus can help you find the one that is right for you.

You can use your Direct Payment to get support from the council, or get new support from somewhere else, or you can choose a bit of both.

The important thing is that the support you choose gives you the help you and the council have agreed you need.

Employing a Personal Assistant (PA)

Becoming an employer for the first time can seem daunting. This is why the council has contracted a Direct Payments Support Service to help Direct Payment users to get started, and provide support and advice when they need it.

The support service will provide you with the information you need, for example:

  • employing a Personal Assistant
  • employment law, e.g. employees rights to sick pay, holiday pay, maternity leave;
  • recruiting staff - advertising and interviewing; contract of employment etc.
  • employers’ responsibilities, e.g. national insurance, liability insurances, health and safety.

The Direct Payments policy sets out our approach to personal budgets and Direct Payments.