For Families and Carers : Paying for support

After the needs assessment, social services should assess your relative’s financial circumstances, using their own financial assessment criteria. They should not take the family or carer’s financial circumstances into account when conducting this assessment.

Local authorities fund support in different ways. The local authority can provide support directly as a service. Alternatively, you can also take more control over support by using direct payments.

Whilst many people have their support funded or provided for by local authorities, some people choose to self-fund i.e. pay for support themselves. If a person has savings or assets that are over a certain amount (currently (2018) £23,250 in England) they will be required to pay for all of their own support until they drop below this threshold.

Personal budgets

Every person who receives care and support from the local authority will have a personal budget. A personal budget is money set aside for a person’s support and care, based on assessed needs.

The total weekly or annual personal budget should be written on the Care Plan and linked clearly to the outcomes that the money will be used to achieve. The money can be used by the person in four different ways:

  • services directly provided or commissioned [purchased from private companies] by the local authority e.g. a day centre
  • direct payments
  • Individual Service Funds
  • A combination of some or all of these

A direct payment is when you receive your personal budget directly. Direct payments can give you and your relative more control over the support he or she receives. You can support your relative to choose how the money is spent, as long as the local authority agrees that it is meeting his or her assessed needs. For example, you could use direct payments to pay for a personal assistant to help in the home and take your relative out to places he or she wants to go.

Direct payments can mean more responsibility, as you will have to manage the direct payments. However, you do not have to do this alone. Some local authorities offer an in-house service to help you manage direct payments, including a payroll service for personal assistants. Support brokers, some support providers and certain local voluntary organisations can also support you to manage a direct payment.

If you prefer not to have a direct payment, your local authority can look after your personal budget and organise your relative’s support for you. This is typically called a managed budget.

Carers UK has further information about direct payments and how to access them on their website.

Disability Rights UK has a specific helpline for personal budgets and direct payments. You can find out more on their website.

Individual Service Funds (ISF)

The right for any person in receipt of a personal budget or assessed as needing one to request an ISF was written into the Care Act in 2014. An ISF is like direct payment except that it is held on behalf of the person by an organisation (such as a care provider) and is used to meet their outcomes in accordance with their wishes and care plan outcomes.

The person can nominate the organisation that they want to manage their ISF – usually this is from a list kept by the local authority. An ISF allows full choice and control but with much less administration required by the person or their family.

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