Personal budgets and direct payments
This approach is sometimes called personalisation. It means you have greater choice and control about how your needs are met.
What is a personal budget?
A personal budget is the amount of money that the council assesses will be needed to pay for your eligible support needs. The total amount of budget could include a contribution from you if you are required to make a payment after you have been assessed by the our financial assessment team under Lewisham’s Fairer Charging Policy.
You can choose how your personal budget is provided:
- It could be paid directly to you through direct payments so that you can organise your own support.
- The council could arrange the service on your behalf.
- You can choose a mixture of these with some of your support met through direct payments while other parts are arranged by us.
What can a personal budget be spent on?
A personal budget can be used to meet the outcomes identified in your support plan, for example some outcomes may be in relation to:
- personal care
- preparation of meals
- daily living activities
- support to take part in educational, leisure or social activities
- short-term breaks for respite
- purchasing items of equipment.
During your support planning you will identify the outcomes that are personal to you and work out the best way to spend your budget.
What are direct payments?
If you qualify for support from the council towards your care needs then you can choose to have a sum of money paid to you to buy services or equipment, rather than have the council arrange those services for you.
If you choose to have the money paid to you this is called a direct payment. The standard way in which direct payments are paid is through a prepaid card. The card is loaded every four weeks in advance.
Direct payments offer greater flexibility and control since it means that you can arrange your support in a way that best suits your needs and lifestyle. If for example you choose to employ someone directly, it means you can ask them to attend your home at a time that is convenient for you.
What responsibilities will I have with direct payments?
Direct payments offer a great deal of freedom but along with this comes some responsibility. If you choose to employ someone you will have certain obligations, such as:
- making sure anyone you employ can legally work in the UK
- registered with HRMC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) for tax and national insurance purposes
- arranging employers liability insurance.
Help with becoming an employer
We offer advice, information and support with:
- knowing the law - for example wages, holiday entitlement, maternity leave
- registering with HRMC and sourcing a payroll company
- sorting out the employment contract
- recruiting the right people
- letting you know about Liability Insurance Options
- managing the monitoring process of how the payments are spent.
Council-supported direct payments
If you are interested in direct payment, but would like help in administering the payment you have a council supported direct payment, sometimes called a managed account.
This is where you still have overall responsibility as the direct payment recipient, but the council will make payments on your behalf in accordance with your support plan. As we are making all payments, you will not have to complete any monitoring.
Managing the direct payment for myself or third party
Direct payments remain public funds which must be accounted for. The council have a responsibility to monitor the use of direct payments and will therefore require you to keep a record of how you spend the money to ensure that it is used to meet the agreed outcomes in your support plan.
You will need to keep records and receipts relating to all spending from the direct payments account and will be required to produce these on a monthly basis. The councils direct payments team can also help by showing you how to keep records when you start direct payments.
Even when someone has been using direct payments for a long time they can still get support, advice and guidance they need in managing their direct payments and complying with monitoring requirements.