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Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

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Support for you

If you feel that you need some help or support at home, you can contact your local Social Services for assistance.

They may suggest a period of reablement or rehabilitation at home, in the first instance to see if they can improve your independence so that you do not need support from the council.

If you are not suitable for reablement or rehabilitation then your local council will carry out an assessment of your support needs. This may involve a Social Worker visiting you at home and asking questions about how you are currently managing and what support you currently have. The worker will also ask you about what things you are finding difficult to manage.

They will write all the information they gather in a document which is often called an assessment document. They will give you a copy of this and you will have a chance to read it and make any changes to it if you think it is wrong or if you feel it did not capture your situation correctly.

After your assessment, they will be able to tell you if you are eligible for services and if so what your Personal Budget is.

They will then work with you to look at how to spend your Personal Budget and what goals or outcomes you would like to achieve. You may wish to become more mobile, or to be able to go out and socialise more. Whatever goals you decide on, the Social Worker will write them in a document known as a Care and Support Plan. You will be given a copy of this for your records. When your care is reviewed they will use your Care and Support Plan as a starting point to check your care is meeting your needs.

How Direct Payments work video

A Personal Budget is the sum of money the council assesses you as requiring, to meet your care and support needs. The Personal Budget is to pay for your care and support needs each week.

There are three ways to use your Personal Budget, and your Social Worker will work with you to help you decide which option (or options) is best for you.

The three ways to use your Personal Budget are listed below.

  • An Arranged Service is when the council manages your Personal Budget on your behalf and chooses your care services for you. This may include purchasing services from a local care agency or day centre.

    You have no responsibilities to manage your Personal Budget as the council will ensure that everything is set up and the care providers paid etc. 

  • A Direct Payment is when the council gives you your Personal Budget and you arrange / purchase your own care and support needs. This may include hiring a Personal Assistant (PA).

    You have full control and choice over who provides your care. You take full responsibility for your care needs, who works for you, when and how. You take responsibility for finding the care that you want and paying for that care using your Personal Budget.

  • An Individual Service Fund (ISF) is when the council gives your Personal Budget to an independent agency. You choose who this agency is, but they must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

    This agency will work with you to design, arrange, and manage the support you want, based on what was agreed in your support plan. The agency then sets this up for you. The independent agency takes responsibility for managing your Personal Budget. They will help you to find the care that you want. If you want to hire a PA, they will help you to do this and manage all the financial aspects of paying the PA from your Personal Budget, so you don't need to worry about it.

The kinds of support which might be paid for using your personal budget include:

If you choose to receive your personal budget as a direct payment then you will have greater flexibility about whom you pay to provide your support - you can choose to employ care workers or other care professionals via a care agency, or can employ your own personal assistant, but you can also choose to pay someone you know to provide support for you.

The council will provide you with a prepaid card for the direct payment to be paid into. Although the council will have access to moniter these accounts to ensure they are being managed appropriately, you should also keep record of any expenditure, such as receipts and timesheets. 

You can then use the money to make payments for the support you have identified in your care and support plan. You will be responsible for:-

  • arranging the support
  • making the necessary payments
  • keeping track of what's left in your budget

The council will arrange assistance for you in managing your direct payment, and in making sure that you know what to do.

Personal Assistants and paid carers employed directly by disabled people will fall into the category of "those who help care for someone whose welfare may be at risk due to old age, frailty, disability, physical or mental ill health or substance misuse who might not get by without their help if they fell ill" are entitled to the free flu jab.

They can book via where they can find a local pharmacy and book an appointment. They have to inform the pharmacy that they are a "carer under the London Influenza Programme".

More information on

If you prefer you can ask someone else to manage your direct payment, and to pay for your support on your behalf. You can nominate a relative or a friend to do this.

If you are a person with dementia, a mental health problem or a learning disability you may not have the mental capacity to manage a direct payment by yourself. But you may still be entitled to receive your personal budget in the form of a direct payment, provided that there is a suitable person (perhaps a relative of friend) who can be nominated to manage the direct payment and organise the care on your behalf.

If you employ someone to provide care and support for you, either privately or using a personal budget, then a change in the law means that, as an employer, you may need to make pension arrangements for them.

If your care is provided by an agency, and it pays your personal assistant's national insurance contributions, the agency is the employer and you don't need to do anything.

If you employ your personal assistant directly, you will only need to automatically enrol them in a pension scheme if they meet certain criteria, which are based on their age and how much you pay them.

The Pensions Regulator has produced a leaflet for people who receive care and support explaining what they need to do, and when, to arrange pensions for people whom they employ.

Employing a Personal Assistant with your Direct Payment - factsheets

Handy factsheets about your responsibilities as an employer if you hire a PA, and aletrnative ways of handling your Direct Payment.

The first step is to request a community care assessment from your local council.

Kensington and Chelsea

Kensington and Chelsea have produced a leaflet on personal budgets and direct payments.


Westminster have produced a leaflet on personal budgets and direct payments.

Kensington and Chelsea

The Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea (ADKC) Personal Budget Project  supports individuals in Kensington and Chelsea with physical disabilities, sensory impairments and hidden disabilities to maximize their choice and control over how support is provided whilst using personal budgets and direct payments.


If you would like to receive independent advice on accessing care and support, benefits, legal issues, housing,  your rights as a carer, and a range of other issues, then you can contact the Westminster Advice Services Partnership (WASP).


The HomeCareDirect website aims to help people to take control over their care at home, whether through a personal budget, personal health budget, direct payment or for people who pay for their care themselves.

HomeTouch is an online service that helps people select and contract with a qualified, vetted carer or personal assistant of their choice. HomeTouch checks the qualifications and references of carers / personal assistants before signing them up. The service is particularly useful for people who are organising their care using a personal budget, personal health budget, or direct payment, or for people who pay for their care themselves.

The Money Advice Service offer independent advice on direct payments.

Age UK offer information and advice on personal budgets.

The Independent Age website provides a leaflet called Home Care: using a direct payment or a personal budget (guide no 23).

MIND provide a guide to personal budgets, with information about what you can do to get support.

Mencap provide a information leaflet on Direct Payments 

Scope provide information on direct payments and personal budgets.Mencap provide a information leaflet on Direct Payments 

The Mental Health Foundation have produced several videos on the benefits of self-directed support, including for people with dementia.

SENSE provide advice and suggestions on how personal budgets can benefit people with duel sensory impairments (being blind and deaf).

Disability Rights UK provide a factsheets on personal budgets and independent living.

In Control have produced a work book called In The Driving Seat which will help you to ensure that your support plan covers all of the important issues and gives you as much control over your life as possible.