Personal budgets and direct payments

Find out how personal budgets can give you more control and greater choice over your care needs.

Personal budgets 

If you have been assessed by us as being eligible for ongoing care and support, the Council will set a personal budget for you. 

A personal budget is the sum of money the council has worked out that you require to meet your care and support needs. The personal budget is to pay for your care and support needs each week. 

A worker will talk with you about how the personal budget can be used and this will be set out in your care and support plan. 

How will I receive my personal budget?

There are three ways that you can choose to receive a personal budget:

  • an arranged service 
  • a direct payment
  • an individual service fund (ISF) 

Or you can have a mix of ways – for example, the council could organise some support for you and you arrange some support yourself.

What is an arranged service?

This is when the council manages your personal budget on your behalf and arranges your care services for you. This may include purchasing services from a local care agency or providing support at a day centre. 

If you would like further information on this option then please speak to your social worker or assessor. 

What is a direct payment? 

A direct payment is when the council gives you your personal budget so you can arrange and purchase your own care and support. 

A direct payment gives you lots of choice and control so you can put in place support that is right for you. This may include hiring a personal assistant (PA) so you can choose who supports you.

There are some conditions that you need to meet to have a direct payment. Your worker will let you know about these.

The Direct Payment Support Service at Action on Disability can provide advice and support for anyone thinking about or using a direct payment. You can find out more about this service below.

What can I use my direct payment for?

Whatever was agreed in your care and support plan.

For instance, having assistance to get washed and dressed, make meals, do your shopping, housework, or laundry.

It could also include someone to support you to do the things that matter to you - seeing your friends, attending college, going to the park, theatre or pub. All of this will be agreed with you in advance and written in your care and support plan. 

If you decide to have a direct payment to employ a personal assistant (PA), there are some tasks in relation to employing a person that you or your nominated or authorised person will need to take responsibility for. The Direct Payment Support Service can provide advice and help with employment.

What is the difference between a nominated person and an authorised person?

nominated person is someone you choose to help you manage your direct payment.

This could be a friend or family member. If you nominate someone to manage the direct payment on your behalf, you still maintain the legal responsibilities that go with it.

For example, Mrs Smith is 92 years of age. She feels that she will have difficulty paying her personal assistant and fully understanding the contracts that are involved. With his agreement, she ‘nominates’ her son to manage the financial and legal aspects on her behalf.

An authorised person is someone who manages the direct payment on your behalf because you are not mentally able to do so. This might be because you have a mental health illness.

This could be a friend or family member. If you have an authorised person managing your direct payment, then they become legally responsible for everything that goes with it.

For example, Mr Jones has a cognitive impairment and is deemed to lack capacity regarding his finances and care needs in his most recent assessment. He responds well to a private carer which improves his quality of life. Mrs Jones will act in her husband’s best interest to manage the finances and legalities of the direct payment to improve his quality of life.

Action On Disability Direct Payment Support Service

The Direct Payment Support Service at Action on Disability (AOD) provides information, support and advice on all aspects of direct payments.

They can also help with any questions about employment issues and the latest guidance about your worker's rights if you employ a personal assistant (PA).

In the following video, David Deacon from the Direct Payment Support Service at AOD, talks about Direct Payments and the support available in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Find out more about the AOD Direct Payment Support Service or contact them on 020 7385 2098. The phone line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Or you can email them at

Is there anything I cannot use my direct payment for?

Your direct is designed to give you maximum flexibility in how you choose and manage your care and support. However, there are some things that the money cannot be used for. 

These include, but are not limited to: 

  • anything that is against the law 
  • on-going residential or nursing care - although your direct payment can be used for short-term breaks 
  • gambling 
  • repaying debts including mortgages, fuel arrears, loans 
  • financial investments 
  • household bills such as rent, gas, electricity, water
  • day-to-day food bills, cigarettes, and alcohol 
  • buying personal care from an unregistered care agency 
  • payments to close relatives living in the same household - unless there are exceptional circumstances that must be agreed by the Council
  • health care needs, which would otherwise be paid for by the NHS. 

What is an individual service fund (ISF)?

This is when you choose that the council gives your personal budget to an independent agency. You choose who this agency or organisation is, but they must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The agency will work with you to design, arrange, and manage the support you want, based on what was agreed in your support plan. The agency then sets this up for you. 

See the individual service fund easy read leaflet (PDF) for further information.

Am I eligible for a personal budget or direct payments? 

To find out if you are eligible for a personal budget or direct payments, you first need to request a needs assessment.

Personal health budgets

Some people may be eligible for a personal health budget.

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support your health and wellbeing needs, which is planned and agreed between you (or someone who represents you), and your local NHS team. It is not new money, but it may mean spending money differently so that you can get the care that you need.

You can find out more about personal health budgets on the NHS website including a video that explains what personal health budgets are and how they are helping people to get care and support.

Other information and advice

HomeCare Direct aims to help people to take control over their care at home, whether through a personal budget, personal health budget, direct payment or for people who pay for their care themselves.

Hometouch is an online service that helps people select and contract with a qualified, vetted carer or personal assistant of their choice. Hometouch checks the qualifications and references of carers or personal assistants before signing them up.

Age UK - Personal care budgets and direct payments

Disability Rights UK - Social care and personal budgets

Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities - Personal budgets

Independent Age - Your personal budget for social care

Scope UK - Managing your social care direct payments budget

Sense - Personal budgets

The Money Advice Service - Direct payments

Contact us

To find out more about personal budgets and direct payments contact us on freephone 0800 145 6095. This phone line is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

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