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Luton Borough Council

Direct Payments

Direct payments are offered to individuals as a way of arranging short break/respite services for disabled children, young people, and their families.

A person with parental responsibility for a disabled child is given money to pay for the service instead of the local council arranging that service on their behalf. A disabled child will be eligible for direct payments if he/she is eligible for a service from social services.

The Council will decide whether a child is eligible by carrying out an assessment of the needs of the child and their family.

Direct payments can be made to:

  • disabled people aged 16 or over (with short or long-term needs)
  • parents or carers of a child with special needs or disability under the age of 18 years

You can receive direct payments for your child from social services as long as you:

  • live in Luton
  • have been assessed as eligible to receive a short break/respite service
  • are willing to receive direct payments and are able to secure the services
  • can demonstrate that you are able to manage direct payments with or without assistance

What responsibilities will I have?

You are responsible for:
  • arranging the services that have been agreed in the care plan
  • setting up a bank account specifically for receiving receipts of direct payments
  • employing staff such as a personal assistant and the legal responsibilities of an employer
  • regularly recording and reporting how you have used the money

Direct payments: choosing and arranging your own care

A direct payment is money paid to you, either as a one-off, or as a series of payments, so that you can choose and buy the care services assessed as needed, instead of getting them from the Local Authority.  

After you have had an assessment of care needs you will then be given an estimated personal budget for spending on the care you need.
The Local Authority will agree with you how this money will be spent and it will be detailed in a care plan.

Once this has been agreed you have three options. You can either:

  • receive this money yourself as direct payments, so you can choose and buy your own care
  • let the Local Authority put care services in place for you
  • have a mixture of these two options

Direct Payments Support Service

This free service can help you with all aspects of managing direct payments. When you choose to receive direct payments, you also take on some responsibilities for the way the payments you receive are managed. This may include being an employer to the carer and as such there are legal requirements that you must undertake, i.e. health & safety, payroll etc. If you are concerned about doing this yourself you can use a free service, offered by the Disability Resource Centre, called the Direct Payments Support Service, they can support you with these responsibilities and even offer a payroll service.

What can I spend the Direct Payments on?

You can only spend the allocated budget on the support or service that you and the Local Authority have previously agree will achieve your child’s goals – these were identified in the assessment of care needs. You are free to choose what form that support is in; who it is provided by; and when and where you receive it. The support you choose must be lawful, effective, and within your personal budget. Visit the link below for ideas what you can spend direct payments on, and details of what they cannot be used for.

See the Children’s Services Service User’s Guide for Receiving Direct Payments for further information on what the Direct payments can and can not be used for.

How do I get direct payments?

If you are interested in direct payments speak to your child’s social worker, the person you are in contact within social services or ring the Referral and Assessment Team on 01582 54 60 00 who will provide you with advice, information, practical help and support.

Will direct payments affect my social security payments?

No. Direct payments will not be taken into account when working out social security benefits, which are related to your income. Direct payments replace the services that social services would otherwise provide. The Inland Revenue does not regard direct payments as taxable income. 
© 2020 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ