Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Direct Payments
See below a list of questions that we most frequently get asked, regarding Direct Payments and our service.
We have tried to answer them as best as possible, but please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any further information.
You can qualify for a Direct Payment if you fall into one of the below categories:
- Have a physical disability or sensory impairment
- Have a learning disability
- Have a mental health condition
- Have parental responsibility for a child with a disability
- Are 16+ and provide substantial care for a person with a disability
A Direct Payment will be provided to the individual so they can take responsibility for their own care. If the recipient chooses, they can also allocate a suitable person to manage the account on their behalf. This can either be an individual or a third-party organisation.
Whilst there are many ways a Direct Payment can be used; most people use the funds to recruit and employ their own Personal Assistants (PA).
A Personal Assistant is someone who can support you with your daily tasks, and who can work as often as you require them.
Other examples of how a Direct Payment can be used are:
- Recruiting and training Personal Assistants
- Paying for agency support, or for cover when your Personal Assistant is away during periods of sickness or holiday
- Purchasing and/or maintenance of support equipment
- For respite and short breaks
- Paying for an activity during the day
There are some limitations on how Direct Payments can be used. For example, you cannot usually pay someone that lives in the same household as you (authorities can use their discretion). However, if you would like to hire a friend or relative who does not live in the same household as you then that is usually fine.
The Direct Payment may be used for something different, but it must be agreed with your social worker or health worker and included within your support plan.
You will be responsible for how the Direct Payment is used, and local authorities (or health authorities) will monitor that the money is spent as agreed in the support plan.
Money is allocated as per your assessed needs. You will be required to sign an agreement, to confirm that the funds will be used to fulfil your needs for personal support.
Before gaining access to a Direct Payment there are certain steps that need to happen. This is to ensure that you can acquire your required level of support.
The local Social Services department or a Health Worker will conduct an assessment. This is to understand the level of support you require and so an individual support plan can be created.
The assessment will review your support and care needs, as well as your financial circumstances. You may be required to contribute towards the cost of your support from the local authority, but you will be allocated the correct amount to ensure your care needs are supported. There is usually the option to add your own finances to the budget, should you wish to purchase services that cost more than the funding will allow.
You will need to open a separate bank account for your direct payment. Once the funds for your care have been agreed, the funding authority will pay the agreed amount into your Direct Payment bank account. It may be slightly higher than the amount you require, which is to create a small reserve of funds. This is for emergency purposes only and should be left in the account unless necessary.
Some funding authorities will operate on a different system and will provide you with a pre-paid card. This is to use for paying your Personal Assistant or other agreed support costs. This allows you to make payments for services either by phone, online bank transfer or direct debits and standing orders.
If you want to hire someone and pay them a set wage, then you need to add them to a company payroll.
Our Finance Team will work out what to pay your Personal Assistant on your agreed pay dates, and what tax and National Insurance contributions you need to make. They will also complete any statutory tax returns required to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on your behalf.
Our payroll service includes:
- Registration of the employer with HMRC (as required)
- Calculation of tax and National Insurance contributions
- Calculation of pension contributions (as required)
- Ensure that all other deductions are made in accordance with statutory regulations e.g. student loans
- Ensure that all other payments are made within accordance with statutory regulations e.g. Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay etc.
- Provide a payslip to your employee through a secure password protected portal
- Where applicable, provide the employer with details of the payment to be made to HMRC for tax, National Insurance and student loans, and the deadline date by which payment must be made
- Provide details of the amount to be paid to the employer’s pension provider and the deadline when payment is to be made. (This will usually be set as a direct debit with the pension provider)
- Where applicable, claim the annual Employment Allowance for the employer
- Reporting to HMRC on a pay reference period basis using Real Time Reporting
- Complete the year-end information and provide employees with a P60 via the secure portal
- Store payroll records in accordance with the regulations (this can be up to 6 years to comply with accounting regulations)
Our Finance Team can take care of all of this for you to ensure that you are compliant with employment and tax law.
If you employ any staff then you will be expected to comply with employment law, as you will be classed as a company and employer.
We will support and advise you on matters linked with employment law such as:
- Tax and National Insurance compliance
- Contracts of employment
- Proof of right to work in the UK
- Rates of pay for personal assistants including information on minimum wage
- Leaflets on new legislation, e.g. working time directive
- Work Place Pensions
- Insurance cover
When recruiting, it is important that certain measures are put in place to protect yourself and any children who may live with you.
Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (DBS checks) can be carried out to protect any vulnerable adults and children within the household. Local and health authorities make it mandatory, for Personal Assistants who are supporting anyone under the age of 18 to have a DBS check. It is good to let people know as soon as possible that these checks are going to be carried out. Funding authorities have different application requirements, but they should explain this to you when arranging your Direct Payment.
Our Direct Payment Support Team will be able to discuss any issues concerning personal safety and will offer advice during the recruitment process.
When you take on a Personal Assistant and become an employer, it is very important that you have the appropriate insurance cover. This is to provide you with cover for any possible physical or financial claims made by employees.
Employers of staff will need to have Employer’s Liability and Personal Accident Insurance.
The cost of the insurance will be included within your Direct Payment budget. Our Direct Payments Support Team will help with any applications for a policy and advise on what is needed within your cover.
Every employer in the UK has a legal obligation under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, to complete basic document checks on every person they intend to employ.
The requirements do not apply where:
- You use workers supplied by an agency under a contract of services (These checks are the responsibility of the agency)
- You have proof that the worker is registered as self-employed and they invoice you for the work they do
Our Direct Payments Support Team can support you throughout the entire recruitment and induction process.
Our Direct Payment Support Team can guide you with all aspects of employment, including resolving any employee issues. In the event of dispute, you can also seek independent advice from the Arbitration, Conciliation and Advisory Service (ACAS) on:
0300 123 1100 or by visiting their website: www.acas.org.uk.
People recruit Personal Assistants to assist them with all aspects of daily life. This can include:
- Domestic tasks – Preparing meals, housework, laundry
- Personal care – Dressing, bathing, feeding
- Social and Community – Support with outings, helping with exercise, participating in activities with clients
- Childcare – Caring for a disabled child, engaging in activities, personal care, escorting to and from school
- Errands – Shopping, collecting prescriptions, driving
- Administrative – Assisting with paperwork or correspondence
A Direct Payment is not intended to replace existing networks of family support. However, you may be able to employ a relative who does not live at the same address as you. Please check this with your local authority.
Our Direct Payment Support Team will discuss this with you to make sure you are aware of all options.
Care agencies are good to use for short-term cover for when your Personal Assistant is unavailable for annual leave. We can support you with finding good agencies who can care for your needs when required.
We can also help you prepare a plan to cover occasions when your Personal Assistant is not available for work at short notice. In some cases, dependent on the circumstances, funding authorities may put extra money into your budget to cover any additional costs of care. Social services have a legal ‘duty of care’ and in an emergency, they may choose to meet your needs by providing the emergency agency cover.
You will need to complete a Leavers Form, which will give our Finance Team the details needed to create a final payslip and P45 form. This will enable the team to work out any outstanding or over used holiday entitlement.
If you need to find a new employee, please contact the Direct Payment Support Team on 01582 470900 (option 2) to discuss your recruitment needs.
Any money you receive from your local authority as a Direct Payment for care, will not impact any other benefits you receive. A Direct Payment is not a benefit or income, therefore its is not liable for Income Tax.
If you use our payroll service, then timesheets are used by your employees to record their hours and so they can be paid correctly.
Timesheets will need to be submitted by a set date throughout the month, to ensure that your employees can be paid on time.
Our timesheet submission and pay dates are:
- Submit by the 22nd of the month for payments received on the 1st of the following month
- Submit by the 7th of the month for payments received on the 15th of the same month
- Submit by the 14th of the month for payments received on the 22nd of the same month
- Submit by the last day of the month for payments received on the 8th of the following month
If you agree to pay your employees every 4 weeks, then your timesheet submission and pay date will vary. We can supply a payment schedule upon request.
Please note that if your pay date falls on a weekend or Bank Holiday, we will attempt to make a payment on the previous working day. If for any reason this is not possible, then the payment will be made on the next working day. We will inform you in advance of any payment date changes.
We will aim to make payments as early as possible throughout the day, but please allow until 6.30pm for funds to be visible within the account. If they have not received an expected payment by 6.30pm, then please contact us as soon as possible on the next working day.
If you have any questions that we have not answered for you, then please do contact us at your convenience.
Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
We can help you get started with Direct Payments…
Arrange a free, no obligation appointment (on the phone and/or online) to chat through your options.
To get started simply send us your name, email and phone number (if you prefer us to call you).
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Over the next few months, we will be hosting live online webinars to promote our free Support into Employment programme. Each webinar will provide you with an introduction to The Disability Resource Centre and what you can expect should you join the programme.
The dates for our final Wellbeing Matters course are available and you can book your space today. We have helped many people improve their overall wellbeing during the pandemic across Luton and Bedfordshire.