Direct payments are one way of managing a personal budget. Families can receive a payment and organise support themselves. Families are not compelled to use direct payments and may choose other options such as having the Local Authority commission services on their behalf, if that is more appropriate.
The support plan will set out the arrangements in relation to direct payments as required by education, health and social care regulations and the special educational needs and outcomes that are to be met by any direct payment will be specified.
The overall purpose of direct payments is to increase:
- Choice and control: increased choice and control is achieved by supporting families as far as they are able to manage their own social care budgets and other income streams (for example, Disability Living Allowance).
- Flexibility: the intention is that families can vary their support arrangements to suit their children’s individual requirements. It can be used for services from both statutory and independent sector providers, mixing and matching what is available from different organisations.
- Social inclusion: it is easier for individuals to identify support which enables them to use a wider range of activities in the community and better meet their eligible needs and support plan.
- NEW Devon CCG – Personal Health Budgets
- Devon County Council Adult Social Care Resource Allocation System (RAS)
- Devon County Council – Social Care Direct Payments Policy
- DIAS – Personal budgets for special educational needs
- The Council for Disabled Children – Making it Personal
- How do direct payments work?What can the money be used for?
A family will be given the option of choosing direct payments once they have had an assessment of their needs as a family. The assessment process will work out an allocation of money that can be used to purchase appropriate support.
Direct payments can be used for any expenditure that meets outcomes defined in the agreed support plan as long as expenditure is lawful, effective and affordable.
The Devon Card
- Lawful: the expenditure identified as part of the social care support plan or EHC plan is legitimate and does not contravene any national guidance on how funds can be used.
- Effective: the proposals in the support plan relate to the agreed outcomes which will meet the assessed eligible needs.
- Affordable: the total planned expenditure identified can be met within the personal budget. The budget can be used for a wide range of activities that support the outcomes in the child’s support plan as approved by the Council. These are for the benefit of the child.
Direct payments can be used for:
- assistance to promote social inclusion, including leisure or social activities. For example training for staff; providing additional staff member; volunteer’s expenses or equipment to ensure that the child can take part in activities in the community
- assistance in promoting independence particularly for young people preparing for adulthood
- employing personal assistants to provide care services
- short breaks to provide children and young people with SEND with an opportunity to spend time away from their parents, relaxing with friends and having fun; or provide families with a break from their caring responsibilities, giving parents a chance to unwind rest or spend time with other children.
- the additional cost of helping a child to participate in a family holiday. These costs may include:
- an additional carer
- the cost of adapted holiday accommodation
- specialized centres offering respite for disabled children (for example, the Calvert Trust)
If service users wish to make larger single purchases or to acquire more expensive types of services, this may be permissible as long as this expenditure is agreed and recorded at the support planning stage.
Distinctions should be made between eligible personal care and short breaks which are for the benefit of the child, and childcare which is principally provided to enable the parents to work and may not be eligible. Funds should not be used simply to subsidise the cost of childcare, but may be used to ensure the child has equal access to activities with their peers.
It is recognised that such distinctions between different categories of activity are not straightforward and therefore such issues need to be negotiated at the support planning stage and clearly agreed and recorded to ensure clarity for all parties.
In addition a personal budget cannot be used for:
- anything that is illegal or is illegal to purchase, or that would endanger the child or young person or any other person
- family holidays – with the exception of providing additional support for the child to participate in family holidays as set out above
- debt repayment
- to pay the people who live with the child or young person to provide care for them.
The Devon Card is loaded with your direct payments and provides a new, convenient and secure way of receiving and spending these funds. You won’t need to set up a bank account for your direct payments, you won’t need to send in statements and we will be able to make sure you are getting the support you need.
We will be able to directly view payments made using The Devon Card so you do not need to send us statements but please remember to keep invoices and receipts for any purchases, as we may need to see them.
Your Devon Card must only be used to make purchases to meet your needs and outcomes identified in your support plan, and agreed by the person undertaking your child’s assessment.
If your provider accepts Visa you can pay them straight from your Devon Card either in person, over the phone or on the Internet. Your Devon Card also has online banking and telephone banking facilities so you will be able to make payments to providers even if they do not accept Visa cards. It is not possible to spend more money than is loaded onto the card.