Here are some questions that we are frequently asked about Direct Payments / Personal Budgets.

If you meet the criteria for Local Authority support with your care costs this is called a Budget and it is paid to you as a Direct Payment. You can then choose, arrange and pay for your support to meet your needs.

Direct Payments / Budgets offer you greater flexibility and control over your life.

Dudley MBC fact sheets about Direct Payments and Personal Budgets are available – please click here.

or for more information please the Access Team on 0300 555 0055.

Direct Payments/ Personal Budgets are open to everyone who has been assessed as having social care needs.

This includes:

  • Older people
  • People with physical or sensory disabilities
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People with mental health problems
  • Parents who care for disabled children and young people

If you qualify for help with your care needs the Social Worker who does your assessment will ask you if you would like a Direct Payment / Personal Budget to purchase and arrange your own care instead of Social Services arranging that care for you.

If you choose to opt for Direct Payments/ Personal Budgets as a way of meeting your care needs then you must be able to manage your care arrangements and keep information about how the money is used. But don’t worry as you can have as much help as you require with managing your Direct Payments, either from a friend or family member and/or from Local Support Team.

People who use Direct Payments / Personal Budget have to have the money paid into a separate bank account opened specifically for this.

The money cannot be kept with your finances.

If the service user lacks capacity a suitable person can be appointed to receive the funding on their behalf. This can be a family member or friend who acts on the service users best interests and has normally been given a registered lasting or enduring power of attorney, or been appointed by the court of protection as a deputy under the mental capacity act 2005. This means that a bank account can be opened solely in the suitable person’s name.

The suitable person needs to be identified and approved by the social worker and is normally identified during the assessment process.

The money will be paid 4 weekly in advance. The first payment will be to the end of the current 4 weekly cycle. You will be sent a letter giving you the payment dates.

The Council will also ask you for financial information every 3 months, recording the income and outgoings on your bank statements, this is known as a quarterly return.

But don’t worry; Local Support Team can help you with your quarterly returns and offer you training in completing them to promote your independence.

All records, including receipts and invoices relating to your care should be kept for 6 years.

Completion of quarterly returns are a mandatory part of receiving the funding. None completion may result in the funding being withdrawn from the council.

The money can be used to buy the help identified in your assessment. This may be personal care, help with household tasks, day care or support with activities and respite/short breaks.

You cannot use Direct Payments for long-term residential care, or to pay for food, gas, electricity or other services.

Please note: All out going bills from the account must be paid via cheque, bank transfers and standing order only. NO cash withdrawals are to be made from the account.

The simple answer is No. You can receive Direct Payments for Social Care as well as benefits. It is not the same as Direct Payments from the Department for Work and Pensions. A Direct Payment is not liable for income tax.

Before you start to use Direct Payments / Personal Budgets you will be asked to meet with Local Support Team who will explain how they work and the support we can offer.

Local Support Team will work with you through the whole process, continuing to offer ongoing support. You will be advised about the financial information you will need to keep and support is at hand to help you with this.

For more information on Local Support Team services please click here.

For people unable to manage their own care account Local Support Team can do this on their behalf by receiving and managing funds from the Local Authority and other funding streams, this is called a Managed Account. Local Support Team do not become involved in user’s personal finances.

A managed account has to be authorised by your Social Worker.

A managed account is just a holding account, Local Support Team will not manage your daily care, this is still your responsibility.

If a managed account is approved for you. Local Support Team will pay all agency bills or P.A wages on your behalf via a BACS transfer. We will also pay any HMRC bills and complete Quarterly Returns on your behalf.

For more information on managed accounts, please click here.

A direct payment is not intended to replace existing networks of family support. However you can choose to employ a friend, neighbour, or sometimes a member of your family, as long as they do not live in your house.

You can use your Direct Payments to pay for a carer from a care agency. This may require making a contribution into the care account as many agencies charge more then what your council are able to fund.

Alternatively Local Support Team will be happy to assist you in recruiting a Personal Assistant through the local newspaper or alternative means which he/she can discuss with you.

Choosing your Personal Assistant is an enjoyable part of the process. If you do advertise in the local newspaper / Job centre / Facebook, Local Support Team will fully support you throughout the process.

If you don’t know someone who is suitable to be your Personal Assistant Local Support Team can support you with recruiting your own staff.

  • Support you with drawing up a job description for the role.
  • Support with drafting and placing a job advert with the local press or job centre.
  • Be the main contact for applicants to call for applications.
  • Send out application packs to applicants.
  • Collect returned applications and forward to you on the closing date for you to consider for interview.
  • Contact suitable applicants to arrange interview time and date.
  • Interview applicants with you at your home or at our offices.
  • Let applicants know the outcome of their interview.
  • Request references from previous employers
  • If applicable, get a DBS check (see point 20 for further details)
  • Send out formal offer letters to successful applicants, including information about role, start date and pay.
  • Provide staff with terms and conditions of employment.

In plain English, to “discriminate” means to distinguish, single out, or make a distinction. In everyday life, when faced with more than one option, we discriminate in arriving at almost every decision we make.

But in the context of civil rights law, unlawful discrimination refers to unfair or unequal treatment of an individual (or group) based on certain characteristics, including:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation.

Local Support Team will be able to help you with information about preventing discrimination. They should be able to help you with wording an advert.

As a new employer you may want to consider:

  • Developing a staff rota which is tailored to your needs
  • Developing a back up plan to cover staff sickness, holidays etc.
  • Consider holding regular staff meetings / P.A review

Local Support Team will work with you to resolve any issues with your staff, usually through staff meetings or P.A reviews.

In some cases you may need to use the disciplinary procedure detailed in the employment contract, Local Support Team will support you through this process. Instantly dismissing staff is not an appropriate course of action unless advised to do so.

In the event of disputes you can seek independent advice from your insurer, or ACAS on 0845 7474747 or by visiting www.acas.org.uk.

If you do experience employment problems outside of Local Support Team’s office hours, please contact your insurer in the first instance who can offer you 24 hour support.

Once you become an employer it is important that you keep up to date with employment legislation. This protects you and your staff. You must adhere to this as failure to do so could result in you being brought to an employment tribunal to defend your actions as an employer.

There are a number of basic statutory rights that all employees have regardless if they are full or part time. This includes:

  • Protection against discrimination
  • Employment contract detailing their terms and conditions of their employment with you.
  • A job description within 8 weeks of starting work.
  • 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year, which will be prorated for part time workers.
  • To be paid at least the Minimum wage per hour of work.

Click here for the current National Minimum Wage rates.

Local Support Team will support you with meeting these obligations.

Local Support Team will help you identify your staff training needs through your risk assessment.

Dudley council offer a wide range of training courses to P.A’s such as moving and handling and dementia awareness. A full list of training course is available from Local Support Team along with available training dates and prices, alternatively you can contact Lee Warner or Wendy Rigby from the learning & development team 01384 813179

If the service user is under 16 or you have a child under 16 in your house, all of your staff are required to complete a child protection training course, this is a chargeable course of £25.00 and needs to be completed within the first 6 months of employment. To book your P.A on to this course please contact Local Support Team on 01384 671214.

Safeguarding vulnerable Adults is also another free course and it is strongly recommended that all PA’s attend. To book your P.A on to this course please contact Local Support Team on 01384 671214.

If your PA’s are interested in doing more training outside of their duties with you. They can now complete training courses at their own cost. Please ask them to contact Lee Warner or Wendy Rigby from the learning & development team 01384 813179

It is your responsibility, as an employer, to make sure that your employees work safely and have a safe place to work in. It is also the responsibility of the Assistant (PA) not to do anything, which might cause you themselves or others injury or harm.

It is important to understand that health and safety is not just the responsibility of the employer but of their staff as well. There is a balance between the safety of the Personal Assistant and getting your needs met and there are laws that need careful interpretation to ensure that you and your employee are not putting each other at unnecessary risk.

Local Support Team will offer to carry out a risk assessment to highlight any potential hazards within your home and advise you how to minimise potential risk factors. If you prefer they can advise you how to access training yourself so that you can then undertake your own risk assessments.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering work-related health and safety in the United Kingdom. It sets out a lot of your employer’s responsibilities for your staffs health and safety at work. For a copy of the health and safety act please see

For more information click here

The first question that needs to be asked is “why do I need insurance when employing personal assistants”? The simple answer to this is that, as an employer you have a legal duty to insure against accidents or injury to your staff, or accidents or injury caused by them while they are at work for you.

Accidents can happen in a number of ways. For example, your PA might fall down the stairs while doing the housework. Alternatively, they might have an accident outside your house while doing your shopping. In such cases, as their employer, you might be held responsible. Consequently, when employing a PA you must take it out.

Your insurance company will also offer you employment support and legal advice if you have any staff disputes.

Your insurance needs to be renewed every 12 months, your chosen company will write to you when it is time to renew. It is your responsibility to renew your policy. Failure to do so will put you in breach of the conditions of employing your own staff.

FISH insurance and Premier care are the two companies suggested by Dudley MBC. Local Support Team will provide you with more information about the two on their visit to you.

Funding for this insurance is provided by Dudley MBC and will be detailed in your care plan.

If the Direct Payments are for services to a child under 16 or to an adult where there is a child in the house under 16, the local authority insists that a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is undertaken for any assistant to be employed.

You need to advise the potential assistant about this as early in the process as possible.

If the service user is a child you will need to contact The Children’s Disabilities Team on Tel 01384 815813 for your PA to complete a DBS.

If the Direct Payments is for an adult and there are children in the house under 16, you need to contact the Direct Payments Team on 01384 813465.

Dudley MBC strongly recommends, however that all assistants are DBS checked before they are employed, even if there are only adults in the house. Local Support Team can request these checks on your behalf.

You must remember that a DBS check should be just one way that you check that your staff are suitable to work with you and your family. DBS checks are useful but will only reveal relevant convictions up to the date the check was done.

DBS checks are valid for 3 years. You will need to ensure that your PA’s next DBS check has come back clear before their old one runs out, so they don’t have a break in their employment.

You should always take up references for anyone you wish to employ and always try and reduce the risk of putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Regular supervision of your workers is a good way of keeping track of what they are doing and how, and also an opportunity to voice any concerns you may have. If you are unsure about any of the information in this section you should always check out what you are thinking of doing either with Local Support Team on 01384 671214 or your local Direct Payments Team on 01384 813465.

For more information please click here.

Local Support Team can act as your payroll agent and will deal with all payroll issues and correspondence from the Inland Revenue.

Local Support Team offer a local payroll service based in Priory Street Dudley. Our friendly and helpful team will process timesheets on your behalf, correspond with HMRC, perform year ends and answer any payroll queries along the way.

As an employer you would simply sign a timesheet to confirm the hours worked by your PA and send the timesheet to Local Support Team to process. You would then receive a payslip which would indicate the ‘net pay’ (after tax and national insurance deductions) payable to your PA and you would pay them in the form of a cheque or bank transfer.

It is your responsibility to inform Local Support Team of any change of circumstances, especially if your assistant leaves.

Please note if your PA receive any type of government benefit it is their responsibility to inform their job centre plus of any change to their circumstances.

PA’s that are not UK nationals need to ensure they are able to work in the UK. We advise them to contact the Home Office – UK Visas and Immigration

Under the Working Time Regulations workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave (holiday) each year based on the contracted number of hours the worker is employed to do. Local Support Team will help you calculate your staff’s entitlement regardless of whether they are full or part-time.

Leave year spans from 1st April – 31st March each year. If your PA starts half way through a leave year, Local Support Team will pro rata their entitlement down for you.
An employer also has the right to ask a worker to take all or any of the leave due on specified dates provided the worker is given notice before the leave is due to start.

Employers and workers can agree how and when to give notice of when leave is to be taken. The employer can ask for consent to be obtained from them before a worker commits themselves to a confirmed holiday booking or any other arrangement.

An employer can refuse a request for holiday if it is not possible to find a replacement at that particular time. This does not affect the worker’s annual leave entitlement. It is recommended that you employ two PA’s so they can provide holiday cover for each other, meaning you don’t receive a break in your care.

Otherwise, workers are entitled to choose their leave dates by giving notice in the same way that employers can. Assistants should take into account any other employer rules, which are in place. Such rules should be notified to workers in written documentation, e.g. written statement, contract or in a staff handbook.

If an employee is sick for four consecutive days or more, they may be entitled to sick pay from you. This is statutory sick pay and is only payable if the employee pays National Insurance. Local Support Team will support you with Statutory Sick Pay.

You should ensure that you have sufficient contingency arrangements in place to cover times of staff absences. Local Support Team can assist you with this.

Further advice and guidance can be accessed via ww.direct.gov.uk, ACAS on 0845 7474747 or your insurer.

If one of your PA’s becomes pregnant and is no longer able to carry out certain aspects of their current job due to pregnancy there are several things to consider.

Firstly, you need to consider whether it is possible for the woman concerned to do suitable alternative work. If not she should then get a certificate from her GP for a medical suspension. (If she is ill for any other reason then this is treated as usual sick leave). She effectively stops coming into work until it is medically safe for her to return. This might be a few weeks or it might be until after her maternity leave.

During medical suspension employees continue to have the same employment rights and wages as if they were working until they begin maternity leave. The local authority has the responsibility to ensure that you are able to use direct payments legally and need to make contingency plans to meet its obligation. They need to cover this additional cost where you need to employ an additional PA or pay extra hours to an existing PA.

For further advice regarding maternity leave contact your local ACAS office or www.direct.gov.uk

If your PA is male he may also be entitled to paternity leave. For further advice regarding paternity leave contact your local ACAS office or www.direct.gov.uk

Local Support Team will support you with the above.

For information on expenses please refer to the Dudley council guidelines supplied at your initial visit or contact your Social Worker.

Or contact the Access Team on 0300 555 0055.

There is a ‘Safety and Guidance Handbook for Personal Assistants Employed through Direct Payments/ Personal Budgets’ with lots of useful information available for your PA .

Local Support Team can supply you with a copy of this.

If you would like to know more about Direct Payments / Personal Budgets, or to be assessed to find out if you qualify for the scheme, you can talk to your social care worker if you have one or contact Dudley Direct Payments Team on 01384 813465 or Access Team on 0300 555 0055

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