Direct payments go straight into your bank, Post Office, building society or National Savings account. But be aware that you can’t spend the money on anything you want.
The local authority has to be satisfied that the payments are going towards the care services agreed in your care plan. You cannot use direct payments to buy services that are already provided by your local authority. They may offer a list of suggested approved providers, but you’re free to use other providers and other types of service if they better meet your care needs.
The local authority will monitor the way you use the payments, for example through an annual review. Remember to keep receipts to show how you’ve spent the payments.
Your local authority will tell you what information you’ll need to provide. This will include, for example, timesheets signed by carers, receipts for equipment or invoices from home care agencies. They’ll also tell you how and when to provide this information.
You might want to set up a bank account specifically to receive your direct payments and pay for care. If you do this, it’s easy to keep track of your spending and you can then submit the full bank statement to your local authority.
If you can’t account for everything you spend, or you use the money for things not in your care plan, you could be asked to pay the money back.
You can’t normally use direct payments to pay for informal care from a spouse, partner or close relative who lives with you, unless they’re registered as a carer. However they might agree it where the local authority is satisfied that it is necessary to meet needs. In England you may be able to pay them to manage your direct payments.
You can’t use direct payments to pay for permanent residential accommodation. But you might be able to use them to pay for occasional short periods in residential accommodation if your local authority agrees that’s what you need.
The precise rules for direct payments vary around the country. Speak to your social worker or contact your local authority to find out which rules apply to you.