Direct payments are local authority payments available for anyone who has been assessed as needing help from social services. You can normally get them if you are a carer aged 16 or over.

What direct payments can be used for

Direct payments can be used to buy services from an organisation or to employ somebody to provide assistance. As a carer, you can use a direct payment to purchase the services you are assessed as needing to support you in your caring role.

This includes support that may help maintain your health and well-being. For example, driving lessons or a holiday so you can have time to yourself. If you are assessed as needing domestic help, you may ask for a direct payment and buy the support services you need.

Direct payments – money from your local authority to pay for care services – are not the same as Direct Payment. Direct Payment is pensions and benefits paid directly into an account.

What direct payments cannot be used for

You cannot use direct payments to buy services for the person you care for. They can only be spent on getting the support you, as a carer, have been assessed as needing.

You also cannot use direct payments to secure a service from your spouse or civil partner, close relatives or anyone who lives in the same household as you – unless that person is someone who you have specifically recruited to be a live-in employee. There can be exceptional circumstances, which your local authority may agree with you.


If you already receive social services

Your local authority has to offer you the option of direct payments in place of the services you currently receive. Under some circumstances you cannot get direct payments. Your local authority will be able to tell you about these. Ask them!  You may not be initially told about them.

If you’re not receiving social services

To get direct payments you will need to contact your local authority to ask them to assess your needs.

Direct payments for people with disabilities

Direct payments are also available for people with disabilities who have been assessed as needing help from social services. If you have parental responsibility for a child with disabilities, direct payments that can be used for a variety of services for your child can be made to you.

How much you can get

The amount you receive will depend on the assessment your local Trust makes of your needs. Direct payments are made directly into your bank, building society, Post Office or National Savings account.

Effect on other benefits

Direct payments do not affect any other benefits you may be receiving.

How to apply for direct payments locally

If you already get services from your local authority, ask about direct payments. If you are applying for services for the first time, your local authority should discuss the direct payments option with you when they assess your needs.

What to do if your circumstances change

If the needs of the person you care for change – for better or for worse, in the long or short-term – contact your local authority as soon as possible so that they can reassess the level of payments you require.


Local authorities can review direct payments as children’s and families’ needs change over time, just as they do when families are receiving services directly from a Trust.


  1. Please make sure you are offered as assessment for this if you are a carer. Our experience is that many times carers are not offered it and don’t know about it.
  2. It is a flexible payment – meaning be creative in what will help ‘you’ personally. Carers need all the assistance they can get to keep coping with caring and resume any kind of personal existence for themselves.
  3. Get help and advice to complete the assessment form – ask your local carers’ group maybe, Age UK Essex or some other group.   They should advise you ‘what’ you can put down on your form, ask you questions about your life and your interests and what would help ‘you’ individually and give you ideas on what kinds of areas you might get help with.
  4. Not everything you put down will be accepted but most of it might. Only things to help ‘you’ care, to make your caring role easier, so you can keep on caring.
  5. It helps if you can write down as much explanation as to ‘why’ you need help with a particular item you have noted down.

For example: We need to say what we want, why we want it, what the benefits would be to us as a carer, what’s involved, how many hours are required a week or month, what company we would get it for and for how much.

Help with cost of course to retrain as a driving instructor.

Why? You appreciate your caring role is not going to be forever and you would like to give consideration to your future employment.

Details of specific course and cost: Don’s Driving School, Braintree. 1 year course. Cost ‘x’ asking for ‘x’ towards it.

In order for me to attend the physical training would need a sitting service. 4 hours per month @ £’x’ per hour. By Crossroads, Braintree.

Alexander Technique Sessions

To help with my correct posturing and to not unduly stress my body, when pushing a wheelchair, turning/lifting/moving my cared for’s body, standing when helping them to eat, positioning when bathing them etc etc.

Benefits: To relieve and help prevent tiredness, strain and illness due to caring. To help me continue in my caring role.

5 x 1 hour sessions at £30 per hour.

Alexander Technique teacher, Chelmsford.

6.  Make sure there is no delay in this assessment being carried out. It can be done with the carer’s assessment.

7.  All requests have to be reasonable for your circumstances.

8.  You will have to account for the monies that may be awarded to you and log how this has been spent.