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Direct payments and personal budgets in North Somerset

What are direct payments?

Direct Payments (DPs) are a cash payment made from the council to you so you can buy your own care and support services. A ‘direct payment’ means that the money goes directly from the council’s funds to you. 

The direct payment could go to someone who manages the money for you.  You have to be at least 16 to hold a direct payment yourself but parents can manage one on behalf of a child, or young person under 18.

Is that the same as a ‘personal budget’?

A ‘personal budget’ (PB) is the whole pot of money that is available to pay for support.

You know you have a personal budget when these three things come together:

  • you know how much money there is ‘in the pot’ to pay for your care and support
  • you choose where the money sits and how it’s managed
  • you choose how the money is used to meet agreed needs and outcomes

You may choose to take all of it or part of it as a direct payment.  Some people are happy leaving the money sitting with the council and letting the council arrange the services for them.

Leaflet - Your personal budget - options available to you 


How do I know if direct payments are for me?

Direct payments could be for you if:

  • you want control and you want more choice about the services and type of support you have
  • you’re confident with money and paperwork
  • you’re happy to keep receipts and invoices and send these to social services when asked

If you feel you would struggle with any of the above it may be that with the right support you could manage a direct payment.  We have a Direct Payment Support Service to work with you and look at options.

How do I get a direct payment for myself or my child?

Anyone over the age of 18 needs to be assessed by Adult Social Care to see if they are eligible for support.  

Leaflet - Am I entitled to help with care and support from North Somerset Council?

Your child or young person (under 18) needs to be assessed by the Disabled Childrens Team. 

Leaflet - North Somerset Childrens Personal Budget Policy

Will it cost me anything?

Anyone over 18 will have a financial assessment to see if they have to put in a contribution towards their support.

How do direct payments work?

Direct payments go straight into a bank account. We ask you to set up a separate bank account to make tracking the money easier. 

You need to show us how you are spending the money by sending us a financial return every 12 weeks.  We will show you how to do this.

We have a team called the Direct Payment Support Team who help you set up and will help you with any problems.

Leaflet - Direct payments in North Somerset – a guide


What can I spend direct payments on?

This is a difficult question as it is very individual and it is linked to helping people meet their needs and achieve the things they want. This will be in your own support plan and you would spend your direct payment on the things that have been agreed.

You can choose to employ a Personal Assistant (PA) and the Direct Payment Support Service will help you with every step.  We will soon have a PA register on-line and a ‘jobs board’ where you can advertise.

You can employ relatives but you need to think carefully about how it works for everyone.

Leaflet - Employing close friends and relatives – things you need think about

You cannot usually employ a close relative who lives with you unless there are exceptional circumstances agreed. 

Leaflet - Employing a close person under the same roof

What can’t I spend a direct payments on?

You can’t spend it on: 

  • anything illegal
  • anything that would harm you (or your child’s) heath or well-being, for example cigarettes or alcohol
  • anything not meeting the agreed outcomes in the support plan
  • anything that’s not value for money
  • anything that already has a government funding stream, for example health care. 

When we set up a direct payment we ask you to sign an agreement with the council so that both sides are clear about what needs to happen.

This is an sample agreement for you to view. 

How can I find out more?

For general information or if you want to have an assessment of your needs to see if you would get help with care and support call Care Connect on 01275 888 801.

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