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2.9 Direct Payments

RELATED GUIDANCE

For further information see also Leeds City Council Website pages on Personal Budgets and Direct Payments.

Direct Payments – Frequently Asked Questions

AMENDMENT

In December 2016, a link was added to an information document containing responses to frequently asked questions regarding Direct Payments (see above).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What are Direct Payments?
  3. Eligibility
  4. Ability to Manage
  5. Consent
  6. Employment of Close Relatives
  7. Using Direct Payments
  8. Restrictions on use of Direct Payments
  9. Short Breaks
  10. 16 and 17 Year Olds and Transition
  11. Assessment and Care Planning
  12. Interim Arrangements
  13. The Resource, Allocation, Decision and Review (Radar) Report
  14. Decision to Approve/Refuse Direct Payments Request
  15. Approval of the RADAR Report
  16. The Direct Payments Agreement
  17. On-going Case Involvement
  18. Financial Arrangements and Direct Payments User's Responsibilities
  19. Mosaic Recording
  20. Reducing the Amount of Direct Payments
  21. Repayment and Recovery of Direct Payments
  22. Ceasing of Direct Payments
  23. Complaints

    Appendix 1: Personal Budgets and Direct Payments: Policy Practice and Guidance


1. Introduction

These procedures relate only to the provision of direct payments in Leeds for children and young people. Throughout these procedures reference is made to parents; this includes those people with parental responsibility for a disabled child.

It should be remembered that where payments are made to a person with parental responsibility for a disabled child, they are being made on behalf of the disabled child and for the benefit of that child. However, it should also be recognised that the person with parental responsibility will benefit from the flexibility and independence which direct payments can provide. The parent’s assessment (carried out as part of the Child and Family Assessment (C&FA) or the Early Help Assessment (EHA) ) is therefore an essential tool in ensuring that the needs of both the person with parental responsibility and the child are met.

In Leeds Direct Payments can be accessed via a Child and Family Assessment as well as an Early Help Assessment. The Professional Lead identified in the Early Help assessment would manage the Direct Payment in the same way a Social Worker would manage the payment. Whilst CSWS would undertake a C&FA, they should also be aware that Direct Payments are not a restriction to a case being stepped across to an EHA.


2. What are Direct Payments?

A Direct Payment is money given by the authority for children aged 16 years or over who have a disability or to parents or carers of disabled children to enable them to buy in support that is assessed as being needed. Direct Payments are paid directly to the parents and carers of the young person, so they can arrange services themselves. A young person aged 16 years and above can also apply for a direct payment in their own right. They are an alternative to social care services provided directly by the authority. Direct Payments do not affect benefits. The most common form of Direct Payments are personal assistants providing an agreed amount of hours to meet the child or young person’s assessed needs following a decision at the Resource, Allocation, Decision and Review (RADAR) Panel. Personal Budgets are different to Direct Payments. Different services or equipment (not just PA hours) can be purchased; funding can be via Education, Health and/or Social Care as per agreed plan

Local authorities must offer the option of Direct Payments in place of services currently being received. For both education and social care, the local authority must be satisfied that the person who receives the Direct Payments:

  • Is able to manage the direct payments either by themselves or with whatever help the authority thinks the applicant or nominated person will be able to access; and
  • Will use them in an appropriate way; and
  • They will act in the best interests of the child or young person.

Regulations governing the use of Direct Payments for special educational provision place a number of additional requirements on both local authorities and parents before a Direct Payment can be agreed. These include requirements to consider the impact on other service users and value for money and to seek agreement from educational establishments where a service funded by a Direct Payment is delivered on their premises.

Direct Payments for health require the agreement of a Radar Report between the Clinical Commissioning Group and the recipient.


3. Eligibility

Before a request for direct payment can be agreed, an up to date assessment of need must be undertaken. The assessment process is exactly the same whether the outcome will be a direct service or a direct payment.

Direct Payments may only be offered to children and young people who have been assessed as meeting the criteria for disabled children’s services.

Children and young people who have Education, Health and Care Plans, or their parents have the right to request a Personal Budget, which may contain elements of education, social care and health funding, and may be delivered by way of Direct Payments. Under the Children and Families Act 2014, this covers those aged 0-25 having special educational needs and disabilities.

Direct Payments are available if a child or young person is disabled. No-one can be forced to have a Direct Payment. Direct Payments can also be made to a willing and appropriate person on a disabled person’s behalf if they lack the mental capacity to agree to and manage Direct Payments themselves.

Direct Payments cannot be used to pay for services from a spouse, partner or a close relative living in the household unless the local authority consider it is necessary to do so. However, a Direct Payment can be used to employ a relative if they are not living in the household. In Leeds the following requirements will need to be satisfied:

  • The child/young person has eligible needs which, following an assessment, it is agreed that it is the responsibility of Children’s Social Work Services to meet;
  • They are a young person who has a disability;
  • A person with parental responsibility for a disabled child whose needs it is the responsibility of Children’s Social Work Services to meet. They must be willing and able to take on direct payments.


4. Ability to Manage

Direct Payments can only be made to people who will be able to manage them (with or without support).

A Direct Payment can only be offered to a young person aged 16 and 17 who Children’s Social Work Services considers will be able to manage either alone or with assistance. This judgement is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the view of the young person him or herself, as well as the views of those with parental responsibility.

The Leeds Centre of Integrated Living (CIL) will be involved in the setting up of all new Direct Payments for children. The service is also available to provide support with all aspects of managing direct payments if the direct payments user wishes.

Managed bank accounts

A managed bank account can be approved to help support a parent or young person to manage a Direct Payment. As there is an additional cost to a managed bank account, managed bank accounts will be offered via an assessed need such as a parent having mental health issues, learning disabilities, alcohol/substance dependency or communication difficulties


5. Consent

Direct Payments allow for greater control and independence, but this increased freedom must inevitably be accompanied by increased responsibilities.

Those with parental responsibility take on the responsibility for purchasing the services to which the payments relate. This involves ensuring that the services they receive are of an acceptable standard. It should be also be made clear to parents/carers/young people requesting Direct Payments that if they change their mind, at any stage, services to meet their needs will be arranged in the usual way.


6. Employment of Close Relatives

Direct Payments cannot be used to pay parents, or a person discharging duties in a parenting role, for the care of their own child (birth - 17 years inclusive). This applies whether the parent lives in the same household as the child or elsewhere. This also applies to close relatives living in the same house hold as the recipient.

It is permissible however to use Direct Payments to employ a close relative who does not live in the same household, if it is the only effective way to meet a child or young person's needs. For example, if a child has complex communication needs and the Direct Payment is being made for a limited period, (for example over the summer holidays), in which time it would not be possible to train a new employee in the child's communication method, then it would be acceptable to employ a family member who could meet these needs.

This will need to be approved by the SDM Complex Needs Service. A report will need to be compiled outlining the reasons for the request. The report should be submitted to the SDM Complex Needs for a decision. These situations are likely to be an exception.


7. Using Direct Payments

The provision of a Direct Payment is a big undertaking for all concerned and therefore the disabled child/young person/ parent/carer should be fully involved in the assessment process.

Direct Payments may be made for all the support a child/young person may need or it may be that they receive a combination of Direct Payments and directly provided services.

Many parents are likely to want to use Direct Payments to directly employ a personal assistant or assistants. This option gives them the most control over the assistance they receive, but it also carries the most responsibility. The support, which is available from the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL), is likely to be of particular value in these circumstances.

Personal Assistants (PA) can be used to support children with disabilities and their families in the following way:

  • To take the young person/child into the community to access an activity, support inclusion, going to a club etc;
  • To work with the child directly within the home, to give parents and siblings a break;
  • To stay overnight to give respite to parents;
  • Or a registered childminder or child home carer (for children aged under 8).

Section 79D of the Children Act 1989 states that anyone caring for a child under eight for over two hours a day and for payment in their own home has to be registered as a child minder. Parents of disabled children should be aware of this requirement, designed to safeguard the welfare of young children, when purchasing support via a direct payment).

Direct Payments Can also be Spent On:

  • Using an approved agency to provide direct care to meet your child/family's needs;
  • By agreement with the RADAR Panel, any service which meets your assessed need for a short break;
  • Special educational provision specified in an Education, Health and Care Plan.


8. Restrictions on use of Direct Payments

Direct payments cannot be used to:

  • Employ someone without Disclosure and Barring Service and CPR checks or references, or someone subject to a drug or alcohol treatment requirement, youth rehabilitation order or released on licence;
  • Fund permanent residential accommodation, though they can be used for occasional short breaks, if the local authority agrees, for any single period less than 17 days for up to 75 days in any 12 month period.


9. Short Breaks

Payments can be made to enable people with parental responsibility for a disabled child to pay for short breaks. This can involve the child/young person going somewhere or a worker coming to the child/young person’s home whilst the person with parental responsibility goes out/away.

A Direct Payment cannot be made in relation to the provision of residential accommodation for a disabled child or disabled young person for any single period in excess of 17 days, and for more than 75 days in any period of twelve months  (short breaks regulations apply). The time limit is imposed to avoid inappropriate use of residential accommodation.

The amount paid towards the cost (if applicable) of any short breaks will need to be agreed by the relevant manager(s). It is anticipated that the amounts will be equivalent to those paid where the service is commissioned by CSWS on behalf of the service user. VAT can be reclaimed by CSWS, enabling nearly 20% more care to be brought for the same money.


10. 16 and 17 Year Olds and Transition

Direct Payments can play a useful part in preparing disabled young people 16 and 17 year old for adulthood. Where Direct Payments are being made to someone with responsibility for a disabled child (which can include 16 and 17 year olds) the possibility of preparing the young person for taking full or partial control over the payments should be considered. Leeds Centre for Integrated Living can provide support with this task. The planning can start from the young person’s 14th birthday.

Prior to the young person 18th birthday, arrangements will need to be in place to ensure a smooth transitional arrangement from Children Services to Adult Services should they wish to receive direct payments as an adult.

When undertaking the planning for direct payments for someone of this age workers will need to ensure, as in all cases, that:

  • The young person is able to manage the Direct Payment alone or with assistance;
  • Other support is available if needed;
  • The services the young person intends to purchase will be able to achieve the outcomes identified;
  • Anyone the young person wishes to employ is subject to a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check;
  • Checks are made to ensure that any contracts the young person enters into are legally binding. Workers should refer to the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL) or assistance with this matter;
  • 16 and 17 year olds cannot use Direct Payments to employ their parents.


11. Assessment and Care Planning

Roles & Responsibilities of Social Worker/Professional Lead and the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL) Advisors

Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL) must be involved in the setting up of all direct payment packages).

  • The Social worker/professional lead must arrange a three-way meeting to be attended by the parent/young person, their carer/advocate etc. (if required), the social worker/professional lead and the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL) Adviser;
  • This meeting ensures that both the parent/young person the social worker/lead professional has all the information they need about direct payment and the process in order to make an informed decision;
  • The adviser will ensure that the social worker/professional lead has information about all costs that need to be included in the Radar Report, including additional costs that can vary depending on the needs to be met. If required the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL) will advise the social worker / professional lead on how to proceed with the direct payments application;
  • The social worker/ professional lead must make a note of the involvement of the Leeds Centre for integrated Living on Mosaic;
  • A copy of the Leeds City Council Personal Budgets & Direct Payments: Policy, Practice and Guidance must be given to the parent/young person for their information. The Leeds City Council Direct Payments Agreement (Children and Young People) must be completed and signed by the parent/young person and social worker/professional lead. The completed agreement shall be sent to the RADAR inbox to be scanned into Mosaic.


12. Interim Arrangements

Direct payments may take some time to set up. Social worker/professional lead must be prepared to arrange for alternative provision to be put in place in the meantime if necessary.


13. The Resource, Allocation, Decision and Review (Radar) Report

The social worker/professional lead completes a RADAR report which must include:

  • Smart objectives;
  • Details of what universal or targeted provision has been considered and why not appropriate before Direct Payments have been considered;
  • Details of all proposed provision and contingency arrangements if the usual provision breaks down;
  • The resources that are to be provided through Direct Payments (e.g. numbers of hours of personal care and/or short break hours each week);
  • The resources that are to be provided through direct provision if requested;
  • Specific provision for any additional funding required to cover the cost of providing alternative support in the event of a planned or unplanned absence of the service user’s regular personal assistant/s e.g. services;
  • Any other additional costs (on costs) including: advertising, stationary, Employer’s and Public Liability Insurance and a repayable two-week ‘float’ totalling twice the cost of one week’s support;
  • All required training needs including any moving and handling issues; health and safety issues, child protection issues identified during the assessment and alternative funding to support package, e.g. Inclusion funding.

Costing the Package

  • If the intention is for the service user to employ a personal assistant, the social worker/professional lead costs the package using the worksheet for costing;
  • The amount of the weekly Direct Payment is calculated using the current hourly payment rates. The hourly rates include an amount to enable people to pay their holiday pay and Employer's National Insurance Contribution (ENIC). If they are not required to pay ENIC, the rate excluding the ENIC allowance should be paid;
  • If required the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living will provide information about ENIC thresholds and advisors can provide support to cost the care package;
  • If the package includes short breaks then the charges, which currently apply for that service, should be made in the usual way. The Local Authority will not pay more than it would usually cost them to provide the same service.

Funding for Insurance and Advertising

There will be occasions when the direct payments user will need the money allocated to them in the  RADAR report to cover insurance and advertising prior to the commencement of their care package. If the money is required for advertising it may not be possible to fix a date for the care package to start until the person has received the money, advertised and recruited a personal assistant.

The task agreed to be undertaken for the disabled child/young person must be insurable. If the tasks are not insurable, that is usually because they are on the edge or are fully health needs. Direct Payments cannot be used to meet health needs. Therefore, another way to meet these needs must be sought, through the Care Planning process.

Submitting the Radar Report for Approval

  • The social worker submits the costed and checked Radar Report to the Team Manager for authorisation; the Team Manager sends the authorised Radar Report and Costing Sheet directly to the Radar using the Sharepoint system;
  • The professional lead should send the Radar Report and Costing Sheet directly to the Radar Inbox (Radar@leeds.gov.uk);
  • The costing worksheet SS27 must be used by the social worker/professional lead for all direct payments applications where the intention is that the service user employs personal assistants.


14. Decision to Approve/Refuse Direct Payments Request

The Radar Panel may defer a request for further information from the social worker/professional lead. This action will lead to decisions being deferred. Social workers/professional leads should therefore ensure the Radar Report and documentation is clear, complete and accurate.

A request may be refused if the panel believes that the provision should /could be met through an alternative funding source. The panel may make some suggestions of alternative resources.

If the local authority decides not to make direct payments it must inform in writing the child’s parent or the young person of its decision and reasons and the right to request a review of the decision and reasons in a format that is accessible to them and in line with the Data Protection Act. It must also advise of their right to request a review of the decision.


15. Approval of the RADAR Report

Roles and Responsibilities of Social Workers/Professional Leads and the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living Advisor 

Once the Radar Report is approved, it is returned to the social worker/professional lead with the panel’s decision. The social worker/professional lead should then inform the parent/young person of the panel’s decision. The panel decision is recorded on Mosaic by the social worker.

The Radar panel administrator will send the relevant sections of the approved Radar Report and the completed worksheet SS27, if appropriate, to the Leeds CIL. The Radar Panel administrator shall amend the costing sheet to reflect the hours approved at the Panel.

The Leeds CIL will send paperwork to Children’s Services Placements Finance Team, as appropriate (social worker/professional lead should not send approved Radar Reports directly to the Finance section).

Once established the Leeds CIL will send copies of the paperwork with agreed start date for the package to the social worker/professional lead and Children’s Services Placements Finance section.


16. The Direct Payments Agreement

The social worker/professional lead ensures that the Direct Payments Agreement (Children and Young People) (see Appendix 1: Personal Budgets and Direct Payments: Policy Practice and Guidance) is completed, signed and copies retained by the parent and Leeds City Council. In the case where 16 and 17 year olds are managing their own direct payments the social worker/professional lead must ensure that the Direct Payments Agreement that the young person enters into is legally binding. A copy of the agreement must be sent to the Radar inbox (Radar@leeds.gov.uk) to be filed onto Mosaic.

Checks

The Leeds CIL ensures that all the following checks are carried out as required regarding the prospective personal assistant, verifies each personal assistant's identity and follows up the checks.

The following checks must be undertaken:

  • Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check;
  • Checks of Mosaic;
  • Checks with the Department’s Child Protection Unit;
  • Checks with the Department’s Human Resources Section.

Personal assistants must not take up their duties until all satisfactory record checks have been completed. It is important to let service users know from the outset that the final decision about suitability will remain with Children’s Social Work Services.

  • The Leeds Centre for Integrated Living notifies the service user that the person can work for them only if the checks are clear;
  • If a problem is highlighted by the checks, Leeds CIL refers this to the social worker/professional lead who will take any necessary action;
  • The Leeds CIL ensures that a repeat Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is done after three years.

Payments of Direct Payments

  • The Leeds CIL ensures that the person with parental responsibility who will be managing the payments, opens a separate bank account in their name on behalf of the child and obtains the account details;
  • In the case of a young person aged 16 or 17 (if they have agreed to manage their own direct payment) a bank account should be opened in their name if they are the recipient of the direct payment;
  • The  Leeds CIL provides the bank account details to nominated persons in the Children’s Carers Payments Team and instructs them to pay one-off start up costs to the parent/young person (for advertisement and administration);
  • Payments will be made fortnightly. The usual procedure is for payments to be made by BACS direct credit to the client’s bank account. The bank account will be credited on the fortnightly on a Thursday following the payment run;
  • The Leeds CIL provides the start date and costing sheets to Children’s Placement Payments Team and instructs them to begin making the payments into the bank account;
  • The Leeds CIL will inform the social worker / professional lead that the start date for full payments has been established;
  • Where the start date of the care package has been delayed to allow time for the recruitment of a personal assistant(s), the Leeds CIL informs the social worker/lead professional and Children’s Placement Payments Team when the start date is agreed and full payment begins;
  • The Leeds CIL will fill out and submit to the Children’s Placement Payments Team additional expenses forms as required e.g. change in the hourly rate, extra money agreed in the Radar Report, such as annual leave payments;
  • Additional expenses for bank holidays may be sent directly to the Children’s Placement Payments Team by the parent/young person with a time sheet showing that the hours have been worked. Children’s Placement Payments Team will then pay these additional expenses.

Recruitment and Selection of Personal Assistants

The Leeds CIL provides support to:

  • Produce all necessary documents to recruit suitable personal assistants e.g. job description, application form, adverts, person specifications etc. An Adviser attends the interview if required (but cannot take part in any decision making);
  • Check that a contingency plan is in place in the event of a break in the regular arrangement and records what the plan is. The social worker/professional lead needs to check this and record it on the Radar Report;
  • Produce employment contracts for personal assistant/s. If the direct payment is for a young person who is aged 16/17, the Leeds CIL checks with Legal Services to ensure that all contracts are legal and binding. The Social worker/professional lead / Leeds CIL checks with Legal Services depending on which contract we are checking for example the social worker / professional lead would check that the direct payment agreement is binding;
  • Ensure that the service user has purchased employers and public liability insurance and reminds the service user to renew this as required;
  • Ensure that personal assistants agree to any training identified by social worker/professional lead as being necessary and arranges this training, e.g. CSWS moving and handling training;
  • If the personal assistant is employed to work with a child or if there are children in the household then the personal assistant must attend Safeguarding Training. The personal assistant does not have to have undertaken the training as a prerequisite of starting work but they must attend the training at the earliest opportunity;
  • Help to set up suitable recording systems and the Leeds CIL as appropriate with any amendments to forms such as times sheets and other record sheets;
  • Support personal assistant employers to administer their own payroll or access a payroll service as required;
  • Support the personal assistant employers need to develop and maintain good employer/employee relationships. Leeds CIL is available to help with any problems that arise, including liaising with bodies such as ACAS if required;
  • The Leeds CIL will inform the social worker/professional lead if the service user experiences any serious problems managing their payments or personal assistant/s;
  • The Leeds CIL informs the social worker/professional lead if it becomes aware that the service user wishes a change to be made to their care package.


17. On-going Case Involvement

Roles and Responsibilities of Social Workers/professional Leads and the Leeds Centre for Integrated Living (CIL) Advisors

When Direct Payments are set up there is always the need to be allocated to either a social work or professional lead for the duration of the Direct Payment. Direct payment packages can transfer to the most appropriate at the time social worker or professional lead.

Reviews of Direct Payment Packages

The local authority must monitor and review the use of Direct Payments by the recipient at least once every six months of Direct Payments being made, and when conducting a review or a re-assessment of an Education, Health and Care Plan. In addition, a recipient may make a request for the local authority to review the making and use of Direct Payments and the local authority must then consider whether to carry out a review.

Reviews of Packages will take place as follows:

  • All new approved requests must be reviewed every six months there after;
  • All existing packages are subjected to a six month review and are returned to the panel for RADAR approval (they can then be monitored and equity ensured);
  • Outside of the review time scale all additional requests for increases of the package must be presented to RADAR panel for approval;
  • If there is a change to the cost of the package being requested then, social worker/professional lead  should where necessary include costing worksheet SS27 and send to the  RADAR Panel Administrator to present at panel.

When carrying out a review, the local authority must consider whether:

  • It should continue to secure the agreed provision by means of Direct Payments;
  • The Direct Payments have been used effectively;
  • The amount of direct payments continues to be sufficient to secure the agreed provision;
  • The recipient has complied with their obligations on the use of the Direct Payment.

Following a review the local authority may:

  • Substitute the person receiving the Direct Payments with a nominee, the child’s parent or the young person, as appropriate;
  • Increase, maintain or reduce the amount of Direct Payments;
  • Require the recipient to comply with either or both of the following conditions:
    • Not to secure a service from a particular person;
    • To provide such information as the local authority considers necessary.
  • Stop making Direct Payments.


18. Financial Arrangements and Direct Payments User's Responsibilities

A separate bank or building society account specifically for direct payments must be opened. If the payments are to meet the needs of a disabled child the account should be opened in the name of the person with parental responsibility who will be managing the payments. In the case of a young people aged 16-17 that are to manage their own payments then the bank account should be opened in their own name.

It is the direct payments users’ responsibility to maintain adequate financial records. The following should be retained for audit purposes:

  • Bank or building society statements; chequebooks and paying in books;
  • Invoices and receipts (e.g. from care agencies and homes);
  • Payroll records and any other documents relating to employment of staff including evidence of appropriate insurance cover;
  • Personal Assistant’s time sheets;
  • Income and expenditure sheets where appropriate.

These documents will need to be made available to representatives of the  Children’s Placement Payments Team, or other section of the Council, if requested to do so. The Leeds CIL can be consulted for advice and assistance.

Monitoring the Radar Report

The social worker /professional lead should monitor the Radar Report to ensure that the Direct Payments are spent on the agreed services and are meeting the assessed needs.

As described in Section 14, Decision to Approve/Refuse Direct Payments Request, the additional expenses payments are made to enable direct payments users to pay for additional costs associated with using direct payments. However, if their personal assistant is on sick leave Employers National Insurance Contributions will not be sufficient to cover Statutory Sick Pay payments. Therefore, they will need to consult with the Leeds CIL who will assist them to liaise with the Department’s Finance Section to ensure that they are able to pay any outstanding sick leave payments.

If any of the checks described in Section 17, On-going Case Involvement give cause for concern the Leeds CIL should refer the situation to the social worker/professional lead who will discuss with the Complex Needs Children’s Service Delivery Manager. A decision should be made as to whether Children’s Social Work Services agrees to the making of a direct payment for the employment of the individual in question. Advice can also be sought from the Duty Child Protection Co-ordinator.


19. Mosaic Recording

Where a service user is in receipt of a direct payment this should be recorded on the Mosaic system as a product by the social worker / professional lead.


20. Reducing the Amount of Direct Payments

Where the local authority decides to reduce the amount of Direct Payments, it must provide reasonable notice to the recipient, and must set out in the notice the reasons for its decision. 

The local authority must reconsider its decision, where requested to do so by the recipient, but is not required to undertake more than one reconsideration of a decision. When conducting its reconsideration, the local authority must consider the representations made by the recipient (and where the recipient is a nominee, any representations made by the child’s parent or the young person) and must then provide written reasons to the recipient (and to the child’s parent or young person, where the recipient is a nominee) of its decision following the reconsideration. The local authority may reduce Direct Payments following reasonable notice despite the fact that a request for reconsideration has been made.


21. Repayment and Recovery of Direct Payments

The local authority may require the recipient to repay part or all of the direct payments, where:

  • The circumstances of the child or young person have changed in a manner which has an impact on the appropriateness of the agreed provision;
  • All or part of the Direct Payments have not been used to secure the agreed provision;
  • Theft, fraud or another offence may have occurred in connection with the Direct Payments;
  • The child or young person has died.

It must give notice in writing to the recipient, setting out the reasons for the decision, the amount to be repaid and a reasonable timescale within which the amount must be repaid.

The local authority must reconsider its decision where requested to do so by the recipient (but is not required to undertake more than one reconsideration of a decision). When conducting its reconsideration, the local authority must consider the representations made by the recipient (and where the recipient is a nominee, any representations made by the child’s parent or young person) and must then provide written reasons of its decision following the reconsideration to the recipient (and to the child’s parent or young person, where the recipient is a nominee).

The local authority may only seek repayment of any portion of the Direct Payments that has not already been spent on the agreed provision.


22. Ceasing of Direct Payments

The local authority must stop making Direct Payments if:

  • The recipient has notified the local authority in writing that he or she no longer consents to receive the Direct Payments;
  • The recipient ceases to be a person to whom a Direct Payments may be made;
  • Following a review, it appears to the local authority that:
    • The recipient is not using the payment to secure the agreed provision;
    • The agreed provision can no longer be secured by means of Direct Payments.
  • At any point the local authority becomes aware that the making of Direct Payments is:
    • Having an adverse impact on other services which the local authority provides or arranges for children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan which the authority maintains; or
    • No longer compatible with the authority’s efficient use of its resources.
  • It has taken reasonable steps to ascertain whether the young person consents to Direct Payments and the young person has not notified the local authority of their consent.

Where the local authority decides to stop making Direct Payments, the local authority must first give notice in writing to the recipient setting out the reasons for its decision.

The local authority must reconsider its decision where requested to do so by the recipient (but is not required to undertake more than one reconsideration of a decision). When conducting its reconsideration, the local authority must consider the representations made by the recipient (and where the recipient is a nominee, any representations made by the child’s parent or young person) and must then provide written reasons of its decision following the reconsideration to the recipient (and to the child’s parent or young person, where the recipient is a nominee).

The expectations of direct payments users will be high. People will see the payments as a means of achieving greater independence in their lives. It is likely therefore, if the payments have to cease, that the user involved will be profoundly disappointed. This will need to be acknowledged in all aspects of the Children’s Social Work Services dealings with the individual at such times.

If, for whatever reason, an applicant is no longer able, or willing, to continue using direct payments the Children’s Social Work Services has a responsibility to return to meeting their needs by the provision of services. This would, of course, also be the case if it were Children’s Social Work Services, which terminated the payments.

Cessation of payments may be considered in the following circumstances:

  • Where there are serious concerns that a parent/young person ability to manage the payment;
  • The Direct Payment is not being spent on the services identified in the Radar Report;
  • Any of the terms or condition in the direct payment agreement is not being met by the parent/young person;
  • The parent/young person is no longer willing or, no longer able to manage the direct payment;
  • The child/young person no longer meets the Eligibility Criteria for services.

In the event of the death of the direct payments user any payments owed to personal assistants is the responsibility of the person with parental responsibility who manages the payment on the child/young person behalf and not that of the Children Services or Professional Lead. In the case of a young person aged 16-17 in receipt of their own payments, any payments owed to personal assistants should be met by the young person’s estate and not Children’s Services.

The personal assistant needs to claim unpaid wages from the person with parental responsibility who manages the payment on the child/young person’s behalf or whoever is administering the estate of the young person aged 16-17.

Children’s Services will only pay the personal assistant wages (when the bank account has been frozen) when the cheque issued by the Council to the direct payments user has been cancelled.

In the event that the Children’s Services requires a repayment of unused funds then an account should be sent to the person with parental responsibility who manages the payment on the child/young person behalf or whoever is administering the estate of the young person aged 16-17.


23. Complaints

Direct payments users should be made aware of the Department’s Complaints Procedure and given a copy of the “Complaints and Compliments” leaflet. If workers have any queries regarding the Complaints Procedure they should contact the Designated Complaints Officer on 01133785111.


Appendix 1: Personal Budgets and Direct Payments: Policy Practice and Guidance

Click here to view Appendix 1: Personal Budgets and Direct Payments: Policy Practice and Guidance

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