Personal budgets and direct payments
The first step to take if you believe you or a loved one needs care is to contact your local authority to arrange a free care assessment. This will usually mean an initial telephone conversation before a house visit by a social worker who will ask some questions to ascertain your care needs. They will draw up a care plan for you which tells you the type of care that you need and how it will be provided. They will discuss practical aids like:
• Walking frames and personal alarms
• Changes to your home like extra handrails and shower changes
• Help available in the local community including paid carers
• Moving to a care home
It may be your needs don’t fit their eligibility criteria so you would not be entitled to their help but you can use the care plan to search for suitable options.
The cost of care can be a real worry for families and your social worker will be able to better explain in more detail whether you qualify for financial help. As a general rule, those with savings in excess of £23,250 will be expected to pay for care themselves. They are known as self-funders. Your social worker will carry out a financial assessment and advise your eligibility for financial help.
Those in Leeds can use the below link to speak to their local authority:
If your local council decides you are entitled to financial help you’ll be given a personal
budget to go towards your social care needs. The council may make a contribution to the
cost with the remainder to be self-funded. You can choose to receive your personal budget
in 3 ways or a combination of the below:
1: The council can manager your personal budget for you.
2: They can pay directly to a specified care provider of your choosing.
3: They can pay directly to you or a specified person of your choice to arrange your own care – also known as a direct payment.
The benefits of direct payments
Direct payments were introduced to give you more control over your own care. They give
You the option to hire your own carers privately meaning:
• You see the same carers regularly who will get to know you better and how
You like your care to be given.
• You can meet the carers first and choose carers who you get on with or have something in common with your loved one.
• They can help you to remain independent and you’ll feel more involved in the tasks they help you with.
How to choose
There are many ways you can choose to find care you just have to show your budget is being spent on meeting your care needs as per the care plan. If you want to receive a direct payment you should ask for this from your social worker. The council will either pay your
• Directly into your bank account, post office, building society or national savings and investment account.
• Send you a pre-paid card.
• To a friend or family member of your choice.
• Someone else who speaks up for you (Advocate) .