Frequently Asked Questions

Direct Payments are available to you if you are eligible for help from social care. They allow you to receive money to buy services or equipment for your eligible needs, instead of the council arranging this for you.

You can discuss this with your social worker or care manager when they assess your needs. Most people who are eligible for help from social care may have a Direct Payment.

The money will be paid to you or in some cases to your nominated carer, once we have assessed what your needs are. Direct Payments are tax free and will not affect any benefits you may be receiving.

You can use direct payments to pay for any care or support that would normally be arranged by us to buy services of your choice. This can include:

  • Day care services;
  • Personal assistance, for example help with washing and dressing;
  • Respite (so that carers can have a break);
  • Equipment.

You can spend your direct payment on services you choose as long as they:

  • Meet the outcomes you agreed with your health or social care worker in your support plan are legal.
  • Are affordable within your personal budget although you could also top up your direct payments with your personal funds.

Contact us through our contact form, phone, email or come into Spectrum and have a chat.

You can stop Direct Payments at any time and Social Services will talk to you about other ways they can
help you receive care and support.
The basic process for a Direct Payment is as follows:
• You make a request for Direct Payments to Southampton City Council or we can do it on your behalf.
• You will have two Southampton City Council assessments (possibly at the same time). A care and support
assessment by a care manager / social worker, to produce a support plan; and a financial assessment (based on national guidelines) to calculate the level of financial assistance.
• A Direct Payment amount is arranged specifically for your support needs.
• Direct Payments are paid into a separate bank account on a monthly basis, and you arrange your own support.
• You can make support arrangements through an agency or directly through by emplying a personal assistant.
Southampton City Council has its own eligibility criteria which is used to decide who should receive services or Direct Payments. Eligibility criteria are used by social services to decide whether they should pay for the cost of meeting your needs. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact us.

You will need a separate bank account for your direct payments to go into. This way it is easier to keep track of the payments coming in and out of your account and you can keep a record of what the direct payments are being used for.

Direct Payments do not affect benefit entitlement or tax. This is because Direct Payments do not form any part of the Service User’s ordinary income. The payments are separate funds provided to buy the care services needed, following an assessment by the council.

You will need to open a separate account for your Direct Payments. The money is paid every four weeks in advance into a bank or building society account. You can open the account with any bank or building society. This will normally be free of charge. There is some useful information about how to choose a bank account on the Money Advice Service website.

Yes, this is called ‘pooling’. It is possible to pool all or part of your Direct Payment with someone else’s payment to employ a Personal Assistant or purchase a service or an item of equipment which will be shared to meet common needs, aspirations and outcomes more effectively and efficiently. The pooled arrangement must meet the goals of the Support Plans of all the people involved.
There is some paperwork required to meet Local Authority audit requirements and for payroll purposes, if you employ a Personal Assistant. Paperwork is kept to a minimum though, and in many cases our Independent Living Team can assist you.
Yes, you will be given guidance and ongoing support with any paperwork required. Contact our Independent Living Team on 023 8020 2931.