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ECIL's introduction to Direct Payments

What are Direct Payments and Individual Budgets?

Direct Payments and Individual Budgets are ways of receiving your care package from Social Services, which will allow you the flexibility to run your life in the way you choose. Instead of giving directly providing you with services, such as those listed below, they give you money instead, so that you can take control and pay for the help and support that you need.

  • Helpers from an agency who come to your home.
  • A place at a day centre.
  • Special equipment.
  • Meals on wheels.

Who can get Direct Payments/Individual Budgets?

You must be getting a package of care from Social Services to get a Direct Payment or an Individual Budget. If you are under 16, your parents or the people who look after you can get a Direct Payment/Individual Budget for you.

There are a few people who are not allowed to get Direct Payments or Individual Budgets. These are:

  • People who have mental health issues and, as a result, have been ordered to go into hospital, or get help under the laws about mental health.
  • People who have been told that they must have someone to look after their money and make decisions about their lives. This does not normally mean people with learning difficulties.

Pam Franklin playing bridge with help from her personal assistant who holds the cards How you use Direct Payments/Individual Budgets?

With a Direct Payment or an Individual Budget you can:

  • pay people in your family to help you.
  • employ a friend or someone you recruit through an advert to help you.
  • pay an agency to send people to help you.
  • buy equipment that will help make your life easier.

In Ealing, people with learning disabilities can use their Direct Payments or Individual Budget to attend IMPACT Theatre Company, Value Life activities project or STEP, Ealing Mencap's training and employment project. (Go to Ealing Mencap website for more information on these projects.)

Whatís the difference between a Direct Payment and Individual Budgets?

Direct Payments were introduced in April 2003 as the way of receiving care by means of a cash budget. Individual Budgets replaced Direct Payments in May 2010. If you were assessed after this date you should have been given the option of receiving an Individual Budget. Individual Budgets are more flexible then Direct Payments, meaning there are more ways you can spend it in order to meet your care needs. If youíve been assessed for an Individual Budget you will need to produce a Support Plan, which shows how you intend to spend your money, before you can start to receive it.

How to get an Individual Budget

If you are starting from scratch and currently have no care package, contact Social Services. The telephone number is 020 8825 8000 or phone the council on 020 8825 5000. You need to ask Social Services for a Community Care assessment, so that they can find out about the help you need with your everyday life.

If you already get help from Social Services and want to find out about getting an Individual Budget, you need to ask for an assessment.

Before having an assessment, try and think about exactly what help you need and when you need it. A useful way to do this is to keep diary for a typical week, making a note of things that you do each day and the things with which you need help.

Combining Individual Budget and other services

You can choose to have an Individual Budget for part of your provision. For example, you may use an agency provided by the council to get you up in the morning and use an Individual Budget to pay someone to help you to go to bed.

Other ways of receiving an Individual Budget

Using an appointee

If you want the freedom of an Individual Budget, but donít think you can look after the money on your own, you can have your Individual Budget paid to someone else who will look after it for you. You can choose who this might be - your mum, dad, another relative or someone else who you know really well and can trust to do the right thing for you. Whoever you choose, this person is called the appointee or agent. They will have to come to some Social Services meetings with you and will have to sign a form to say they will look after the money you get from an Individual Budget and use it for the help you need.

Setting up a Trust

If you donít know someone who would do to do this, there is another way it can be done, which is called setting up a trust. A trust is like a very small charity that is set up to look after your Individual Budget. You need a solicitor to write the trustís rules. There are normally three or four members of the trust and you are one of them. The members are in charge of the money and how it is spent for you. They have to listen to what you want and then work out the best way to use the Individual Budget to get the help that you need. The trust then looks after your Individual Budget and deals with Social Services for you.

The Independent Living Fund

This is a fund that extra money to add to your Individual Budget, if you need a lot of help. Unfortunately the Independent Living Fund is not taking any new referrals and is due to close in 2015. You can get more information from the DAB, Ealing Direct (see below) or from your social worker.

Further support

Ealing Direct is part of Ealing Council and will support you after you have got your Individual Budget in place. It is based at Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, W5 2HL and the telephone number is: 020 8825 8475. The lead person there is Tracey Chilton.

The DAB can also offer you advice, information and support with regard to Individual Budgets.