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An introduction to direct payments

  • Last modified date:
    19 February 2008

Direct payments are cash payments made to individuals who have been assessed as needing services, in lieu of social service provisions.

Who can receive a direct payment?

They can be made to disabled people aged 16 or over, to people with parental responsibility for disabled children, and to carers aged 16 or over in respect of carer services. A person must be able to consent to have a direct payment and have the capacity to manage one, although they can have assistance to manage their payment on a day-to-day basis.

Giving people choice and control over their own care

The aim of a direct payment is to give more flexibility in how services are provided. By giving individuals money in lieu of social care services, people have greater choice and control over their lives, and are able to make their own decisions about how their care is delivered.

The duty to provide direct payments

The law has been changed so that it is a duty to make direct payments. This means that councils must make a direct payment to eligible individuals who are able to provide consent. Direct payments should be discussed as a first option at each assessment and each review.

The latest community care statistics indicate that the changes are having a positive effect. From 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, 37,000 adults received direct payments during the year, a rise of over 50 per cent from 24,000 in 2004-05. This figure does not include children or carers.

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