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Durham County Council

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Direct Payments


Direct Payments are money you can receive from us to buy care and support services, rather than having social care staff arrange them.

This puts you in charge of your care or support arrangements, giving independence and flexibility over who provides your care and how and when it is delivered. The services purchased with Direct Payments must be safe, legal and meet your care and support needs. Social care staff will provide help and support as you decide whether Direct Payments are for you.

Who can receive Direct Payments?

Most people who are eligible for care and support services are also eligible for Direct Payments. 

Why choose Direct Payments?

Having the money to pay for your own care and support means you have more choice and control over who provides your care and support services and when they are provided. Direct Payments can only be used to purchase goods and services that are safe and meet legal requirements and meet assessed eligible needs as set out in your Care and Support Plan which is agreed with your social worker / care coordinator.

What services and products are available to meet your needs?

Our Locate - care and support in County Durham website can help you find services and products you can buy with your Direct Payments. The easy to use website contains details of providers of care and support services, health groups and other community information. Many people use their Direct Payments to employ a Personal Assistant. A Personal Assistant will support you to live as independently as possible by doing a range of tasks for you. This could include helping with personal care, social outings and community activities.

Adults with care needs can search for a Personal Assistant on the Locate - care and support in County Durham website. Parents and carers of a child with care needs can search for a Personal Assistant to help them on the Families Information Service website.

Are there any restrictions?

Direct Payments can not be used to:

  • buy health services
  • buy long term residential care or very frequent 'short break' care in a residential facility
  • pay household bills or other personal expenses
  • buy services directly provided by the local authority

The money is not income or a benefit and therefore it will not affect any benefits you may already receive.

If you are over 18, you will be financially assessed to see if you need to make a contribution to the cost of any support you are entitled to.

You must be willing and able to manage the Direct Payments with support if required.

Those who lack capacity to consent to Direct Payments will need to have a suitable appointed person agreed by the council to receive the Direct Payments on their behalf.

Direct Payments cannot normally be used to employ close relatives who live in the same household. A small number of people may not be able to have Direct Payments and this would be discussed with your social worker or care co-ordinator.

If you are concerned that someone is claiming money they shouldn't, please Report suspected fraud to us.

Find out more

If you already receive care and support services from us and have a social worker or care co-ordinator, speak to them about using Direct Payments for part or all of your support needs. If you don't have a social worker or care coordinator, please contact us to have an assessment to find out if you are eligible. This information can also be found in our Direct Payments leaflets:

Managing Direct Payments

If you choose Direct Payments, you or a suitable appointed person will need to sign a Direct Payments Agreement which sets out the terms and conditions of receiving Direct Payments and also what the Council requires. Examples of Direct Payments Agreements can be viewed below:

Direct Payments update

We produce regular information about Direct Payments to keep you up-to-date on the latest details: