Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

Personal Budgets
Personal Budgets are a way of delivering social care to adults they are a way of allocating money to individuals who are eligible for state supported social care. The aim is that Personal Budgets help to ensure those using care services have choice and control over their own care.

How Personal Budgets work
Once it has been established that someone is eligible for social care support, they can be offered a Personal Budget which can be used to meet their social care needs. In order to plan support, we will usually tell them what the ‘indicative budget’ is. This is the amount that we think should be roughly enough to meet the person’s needs.

With that indicative budget as a guide, individuals can plan their support. They have the choice of taking their Personal Budget as a cash amount and using that money to pay for the services they want, having the local authority manage the budget on their behalf, or a mix of the two. The money can be spent in a whole range of ways which may mean paying for traditional local authority services such as home care or day care; alternatively it may mean buying services from the private sector.

Local authorities have a lot of flexibility in how much they allocate to people as Personal Budgets. Although everyone who receives a Personal Budget is eligible for state support with social care, many are still expected to contribute financially according to what they can afford.

Direct Payments
Direct Payments are financial payments made to individuals who have been assessed as eligible to receive support from Bromley Council. We can make a Direct Payment to most people who need our support, including:

  • people who have been assessed as needing community care services (including those with mental health needs) aged 16 and over, incorporating short as well as longer term needs
  • carers over 16 for carer’s services
  • parents of disabled children, for children’s services

Instead of Bromley Council arranging or providing services directly, the individual uses these payments, either by themselves or with assistance, to purchase support that they consider most appropriate to meet their assessed social care needs. Also, if a person is looking after someone else as a carer, they could also receive Direct Payments to help them in their caring role or to have some time for themselves.

Why would I want Direct Payments?
Direct Payments allow more control over the decisions that affect an individual’s life. They provide more flexibility and choice, as the individual can buy appropriate support more tailored to their individual needs. Another option is for Adult Social Care to source a portion of the care / support needs through services commissioned directly by Bromley Council and also provide a Direct Payment to arrange those remaining services that individuals wish to have more control over.

What can Direct Payments be used for?
If someone receives a Direct Payment, the money is used to arrange support to meet eligible needs. Individuals may choose to employ someone directly, to buy services from an independent or voluntary sector provider or purchase equipment to help live more independently. With Direct Payments, people or agencies employed are accountable to the individual and not to Bromley Council. Direct Payments enable more control, choice and flexibility over how someone plans their support to fit with their life.

It is important that plans meet assessed needs in the best way for the individual. Therefore, provided the money is used lawfully, and eligible needs are met, the flexibility that these payments allow means it is impracticable to outline what the money can be spent on. However, there are certain items on which these payments cannot be spent, for instance:

  • on services that should be provided by Health
  • on routine living expenditures: utility and household bills for instance

Most Direct Payments are made to meet regular ongoing support needs, however they can also be made as a single payment, for example, to purchase equipment or a short respite break.