Direct Payments are a Burden on Carers

The Government’s Vision for Adult Social Care (England) requires  local authorities to provide personal budgets for a carer with her daughtereveryone eligible for on-going social care, preferably as a direct payment. The aim is to give choice and control to the people needing support rather than social workers deciding the package of support they would get.

People should be able to choose and control the services they receive and personal budget is a method for doing this. More choice and control can give them a sense of independence and help transform lives.

There is a genuine fear that councils are deliberately withholding the offer of personal budgets to retain control, or that the council says a personal budget has been allocated but in reality the council and not the person controls what it is spent on.

This is why the Government are promoting Direct Payments over personal budgets. With Direct Payments, the money is actually given to the person to spent and manage in contrast to a personal budget where the council administers the budget, despite the person being in control.

However, using a Direct Payment brings extra burdens for people. Unlike with personal budgets where the Council remains the employer, in Direct Payments the holder becomes the employer and all that entails. Tax issues, redundancy if you dispense with a personal assistant, holiday pay and sick cover and dreaded paperwork.

Research  showed that the burden of managing a Direct Payment or personal budget often falls on the carer, adding to their responsibilities. By promoting Direct Payments, the Government is effectively increasing the burden on carers.

I worry that people who don’t want a personal budget will be pushed into receiving one because of the Government target, and that there may be some people who would prefer a personal budget but are pushed into a Direct Payment because of the Government guidance.

If so, I want to hear from you.

Take care



February 9, 2011 - Posted by | Benefits, Social Care | , , ,


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CarersGloucestershir, CarersTweets. CarersTweets said: Direct Payments is A Burden on Carers […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Direct Payments is A Burden on Carers « CarersBlog -- | February 9, 2011 | Reply

  2. You cannot use direct payments to buy services for the person you care for. They can only be spent on getting the support you, as a carer, have been assessed as needing.

    I quote from the Direct Government Site.

    So , if I qualify for a DP , and , as a 24 \ 7 lone carer , I cannot use these monies to replace myself for a few hours ? If not , what use are they ?

    Are DP’s means tested ? On the caree as well as the carer ?

    Comment by Paul | February 9, 2011 | Reply

  3. As with all care services there is no “one size fits all”. I think choice is just what should be offered, either council run services, a Direct Payment for those who can use them or Personal Budgets. The choices should still be there. Personally we have used a Direct Payment for 6 years to buy what help we need and it works fine and is easy to administer, in my opinion. Its true some find basic bookeeping a problem but training should always be available for those who need it. Again I think it all depends were you live.

    Comment by ians12 | February 10, 2011 | Reply

    • The person you care for can be assessed as needing service which can be allocated a DP in their own right. In fact this is always the case in Scotland were Carers cannot get DPs in their own right.

      Comment by ians12 | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  4. ” Direct Payment brings extra burdens for people. Unlike with personal budgets where the Council remains the employer, in Direct Payments the holder becomes the employer and all that entails. Tax issues, redundancy if you dispense with a personal assistant, holiday pay and sick cover and dreaded paperwork.”

    I have been self employed most of my working life and coming from a family of shop keepers the dreaded annual tax return could be an added burden on top of the role of caring. It sounds great and liberating but is a very serious matter. I would not want to take up the responsablility of employing care workers. Accountancy advice is very expensive. Unless you have book keeping experience steer clear.
    I gather from my local MP that he has a number of cases of people who have run into serious difficulties.

    Comment by Daphne Sanderson | February 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Like I said its having the choice that matters, for someone like yourself who could possibly find suitable local authority administered and paid for services that are suitable a DP would not have much merit. But to someone who could not get the services they need (eg someone to be a PA, drive the family car, see to aspects of personal care etc) and relies on a familiar face at the same time every day a DP might be ideal. Many LAs offer free advice as does HMRC and having a DP is nothing like running a full operating business, there is no VAT to deal with for a start. Most of the payroll and tax is computerised these days and for me it only takes about an hour in April to do the annual return online. So with the right help from LAs it can be very useful to have DPs as an option as well as Personal Budgets and direct services from LAs. But the choices must always be equally presented, that’s what’s missing in my opinion, an agreed framework of procedures and policies for offering care services in different forms. That ought to be agreed at each national level for all LAs in my opinion.

      Comment by ians12 | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  5. I was given direct payments for my daughter the first year but we never used them.Failed to understand them.The problems of isolation and making friends are the biggest problem especially as my daughter had to be different and just wanted to mix with anyone rather then any special groups where she found disabilities too high.

    Firstly I had already exhausted all the places she wanted to go. Tried them and she has no idea of money so did not want to go shopping. Could not go back to college because they became too hard and support not enough. She didn’t want to go walking around the street doing nothing without a friend in the world.

    The second time I was told she could have direct payments if she wanted a carer. She didn’t, she was happy with me taking her everywhere but I never got a day off or have a life of my own.I was forgotten about.First they should have more places to go which are inclusive and things to do for milder disabilites not just higher. This makes difference instead my daughter is at home with me all the time and not living a life of her own.

    Comment by Simone | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  6. Hi, are you sure you have not got direct payments and personal budgets mixed up? Its personal budgets that people hold, and if they choose not to employ an agency to deal with employment issues if they employ a Personal Assistant, then they do have to deal with all that themselves. Think most people pay an agency though rather than take on that responsibility.
    In terms of the council being in control of whats bought rather than the person, what is bought has to meet the persons needs, and has to be value for money. If it meets needs an is good value thats usually fine.
    Personal budgets offer people far more choice/flexibility but because of that more responsibility. EG they need to think about how to meet needs, hopefully using mainstream and specialist facilities, which will need checking out, visiting ect. They need to work with others to draw up a support plan. This is instead of having perhaps just one option, surely a better way of doing things?

    Comment by Mary | February 10, 2011 | Reply

    • “Think most people pay an agency though rather than take on that responsibility”

      Yes if you say you need to employ an agency to deal with payroll and taxation matters then a DP should include costings for this as well.

      It should be noted that although a 3rd party may administer your payroll and dealings with HMRC you are always responsible for your tax payments and pay to your employees even though someone else may do the calculations etc for you. Payroll services are only your contractors.

      Comment by ians12 | February 11, 2011 | Reply

      • If people have a budget, then they choose whether or not to pay someone else to deal with the employment issues, if people choose to do it themselves then they have a bit more money to spend on other things, but, would have thought its worth paying someone else, unless you are very confident and have the time to do it.

        Comment by Rachel | February 14, 2011

  7. I’ve heard of situations where proper advice and information has not been given and carers have hit problems with employment tribunals, tax arrears and all sorts of other difficulties.

    Comment by charles47 | February 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Few and far between, and the employers liability insurance can now cover legal expenses for tribunals. HMRC have a helpline for employers, they are very helpful (especially when they are COLLECTING Tax lol).

      Like I said, people must have the choice and they choices should be well presented, a standard needs to be established throughout LAs for how advice is given.

      Maybe there should be in independent body setup to monitor this and give help advice and support to recipients of the various packages.

      Comment by ians12 | February 14, 2011 | Reply

      • Agreed, Ians12. LAs should be made to take responsibility over this issue or the whole thing will collapse like a house of cards.

        Comment by charles47 | February 14, 2011

  8. There are potential problems when the direct payments cease and you are left with insufficient funds to pay the next tax bill. I have been left with a large bill which I am having to pay through my own funds which I did not expect. Also if the employee wants redundancy money of which they are entitled you are liable for this.

    Comment by Anthony Ellis | September 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Anthony I would check this. I am a family carer but have also worked under DPs twice. 1st time I was entitled to redundancy and it was social services DP money that paid it, not the family. Also if the tax bill is for a period when DPs were in payment, any bill should be passed to social services. We did this when my mam died. x x

      Comment by Rosemary O'Neill | September 17, 2013 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: