Coronavirus - guidance
This guide contains the most common questions we have been asked and some important information when employing personal assistants. Please note that Government guidance and legal provisions are changing almost daily.
Direct payments is one of the ways you can choose to receive your personal social care budget and use it to meet your care needs. If you choose to receive direct payments, Lancashire County Council will give you the money so that you can buy the care/support you need. Direct payments can help you to arrange your care/support around how you live your life, in a way that will meet your needs. If you think that you would like to use a direct payment to meet your care needs contact our customer care team on 0300 123 6720.
Considering direct payments
It is important that you or the person receiving and managing your direct payments understand the responsibilities involved. These include:
- signing an agreement that sets out the responsibilities between you and Lancashire County Council
- keeping simple records to show us how your money has been spent
- ensuring the money is spent as detailed and agreed in your support plan
- paying your assessed financial contribution
- understanding that if you employ a personal assistant (PA) you will become an employer
- ensuring you understand your contractual obligations when buying services from a care agency or another service
Managing direct payments
If you need help to manage your direct payments you can ask someone else to manage the money for you. The person you ask will need to be willing, able and capable of managing your direct payments.
Where a person lacks mental capacity to consent to receiving direct payments, Lancashire County Council can appoint a representative to receive the direct payments on their behalf.
The person who receives and manages the direct payments cannot use the money to pay themselves to provide the care or support needed.
Your contribution to the cost of your care or support
Lancashire County Council operates a charging policy which is based on a person’s ability to pay. We will carry out an assessment of your financial circumstances. Depending on your income and your ability to pay, you may be required to make a contribution to the cost of your services.
Receiving direct payments
You can choose to receive your direct payments onto a prepaid card or to a separate bank account that you have set up. You could use some of your direct payment to pay an independent company who can arrange for any employees to receive their wages and pay any invoices. They will also prepare paperwork for auditing by the county council.
Choosing a prepaid card
A prepaid card is just like a traditional bank account, but without a cheque book. It is not a credit or debit card so you can only spend up to the balance on the card. You can also load money on your card to pay your contribution if required. If you choose to have a prepaid card it will be sent to you or your nominated representative's home address with instructions on how to activate it.
Direct payments and state benefits
Direct payments are not classed as income or a benefit and therefore will not affect any benefits you receive.
Spending your direct payments
Direct payments are for buying support, services and goods to meet your social care needs as identified in your social care assessment. Some people use the money to recruit and employ a personal assistant and /or buy support from an agency or organisation of their choice. The details of what you decide to spend your direct payment on needs to be agreed and written in your support plan.
Direct payments are not intended as a replacement for support from families, friends or from voluntary organisations and should not be used to pay someone who lives with you in your home.
Becoming an employer
Many people use their direct payments to employ a personal assistant (sometimes referred to as a PA). If you decide to employ a personal assistant, you or the person you have asked to manage your direct payments will need to:
- become an employer
- ensure a contract of employment is in place
- manage your employee
- pay your employee's wages including any tax and national insurance contributions
- keep simple employee records
- purchase Employer's Liability Insurance
- have a backup plan in place to cover your employee's absences and holidays
Support available if you choose to take a direct payment
We have asked an organisation called Lancashire Independent Living Services (LILS) to provide you with the professional support you will need to manage your direct payment. They can provide information and support with anything from budgeting to deciding how to spend the direct payment, including:
- information, advice and support to become an employer
- assistance with staff recruitment, contracts and interviews
- carry out Disclosure and Barring Service checks for your employee
- provide financial management and budgeting advice
- on‐going advice with personnel issues
- general advice about using your direct payments
- help activating your prepaid card
If you employ a personal assistant, LILS can help you with your responsibility to pay your employee's tax, national insurance and pension contributions. This is not difficult as the payroll service also provided by LILS will work out what needs to be paid and will send you payslips so you know how much to pay your personal assistant.
Using your direct payment to pay a home care provider
Information about using your direct payment to pay a home care provider including the questions you need to ask.
If you think that you would like to use a direct payment to meet your care needs contact our customer care team on 0300 123 6720.
If you'd like more information or advice contact Lancashire Independent Living Services (LILS) on 01772 558863.