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Direct Payments

What is a Direct Payment?

Direct Payments are cash sums that your local Council can pay to people who are ill or disabled to enable them to buy the care and support they need.  Under the law, Councils must offer the option of Direct Payments to any eligible person who requests it.


Why should I have a Direct Payment?

Direct Payments allow you to take more of the decisions that affect your life.  They give you more choice and control of your own care.  For example, with Direct Payments you can employ the person or agency you choose, decide on the hours of employment and the tasks you want completed.


Who can receive Direct Payments?

People who are eligible for adult care services can receive Direct Payments.

If you are not already receiving adult care services, somebody from the social work team will first undertake an assessment to identify your care and support needs and discuss these with you.  If this shows that you entitled to adult care services you then have a right to ask to be considered for Direct Payments instead of Bedford Borough Council arranging services for you.


You may need the care services because you:

  • are aged 16 and over and have a disability or illness (this can include learning disabilities and mental health problems)
  • have parental responsibility for a disabled child or children; or
  • are a carer aged 16 and over


You must also:

  • be willing to have Direct Payments
  • agree that you understand what having Direct Payments entails; and
  • be able to manage the payments either alone or with help


Please note - from November 2009 all local councils must also offer direct payments to people who lack mental capacity.  This means people who are unable to decide for themselves whether or not to receive direct payments.  You may be able to help someone you know in this position by receiving and managing a direct payment on his or her behalf.


How can I use Direct Payments?

You must use the Direct Payments to pay for services that meet your social care needs as identified in your assessment and agreed with your care worker, but how you choose to meet those needs will be up to you to decide.


If you are already receiving care services arranged by the Council you can change to receiving Direct Payments to buy these services elsewhere.  You will always have the right to return to services arranged by the Council if you prefer.  You can have a mixture of Direct Payments and services arranged for you.  If you wish to buy services from the Council or a permanent placement in a registered care home we will make the payment directly to your chosen provider.


What kind of support can I get with Direct Payments?

Bedford Borough Council has approved some organisations, which are independent from the Council, to provide a Direct Payments Support Service. This includes a range of services to help you set up and manage your Direct Payments, including, for example:


  • help to identify services you might be interested in
  • advice and assistance with recruiting and employing your own staff, including payroll support - more information on employing a personal assistant is available here
  • help to identify other suitable agencies if this interests you
  • many other matters relating to using Direct Payments


Your care worker can provide details of these support organisations.


We encourage all eligible service users to opt for direct payments as a means of meeting their care and support needs.  If in the end you decide it is not for you, you will still be able to receive care services provided for you.


Related information

Direct payments factsheet

Direct payments support services

A guide to receiving direct payments from your local council

A guide to getting direct payments from your local council - easy read version

Skills for care toolkit - support people to employ their own personal assistants


Don't Miss

Health and Social Care

Bedford Borough Council is responsible for social care services within the borough. This section explains how we support people of all ages who may need care either at home or in another setting.


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