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Direct payments

easy read Easy read guidance about direct payments and Covid-19 is available.

Guidance on direct payments and Personal Assistants is available.

If Adult Social Care has agreed that you are eligible for support services, you may be offered a personal budget.  One way you can manage your personal budget is by receiving a direct payment (DP).

A direct payment is a cash amount based on your agreed personal budget. Direct payments enable you to arrange and pay for the individually tailored care and support agreed in your care plan.  This would enable you to live as independently as possible.

Who can receive a direct payment?

Most people who are assessed as being eligible to receive social care and support can get a direct payment.  This includes:

  • unpaid carers aged 18 and over who care for a disabled adult
  • older people
  • disabled people over the age of 16
  • people with mental health needs
  • people with parental responsibility for a disabled child aged up to 18
  • people in supported living.

What can I use a direct payment for?

Direct payments can be used flexibly as long as they meet the outcomes agreed in your care plan.  You can use a direct payment to pay for:

  • your staff, to help with personal care needs and running your home (information about this is below)
  • personal care and support to help you live in your own home
  • transport costs
  • short breaks, social activities and visiting friends
  • evening classes and college courses
  • equipment for your home to enable you to live healthily and independently

There are some things that you can’t use a direct payment for, and these include:

  • paying your household bills such as food, drink and utilities
  • your rent or mortgage
  • health services such as the dentist or chiropody or equipment from the NHS
  • employing someone you live with, for example a family member, except in special circumstances and if pre-agreed with Camden
  • paying for care whilst you are abroad, unless your usual carer agrees to travel with you. Please note that if this is the case, you are responsible for paying for their travel and accommodation costs and general living expenses from your personal funds
  • anything that does not meet the agreed outcomes in your care plan.

To find out more about how you can use direct payments, contact Adult Social Care

Phone: 020 7974 4000 (select option 1)


How to receive your direct payment

There are different ways that you can receive your direct payment from Camden that also allows you to stay in control of the payments. These are:

  • using a pre-paid account that you manage yourself
  • using a pre-card account that is managed by someone you have nominated
  • using a payroll company to manage the payments on your behalf
  • using a separate bank account set up for direct payment related expenses only

You will find details about each of these options below. If you feel you are unable to use any of the options, Adult Social Care will discuss an alternative option with you.

1. Pre-paid account that you manage yourself

Having a pre-paid account gives you all the flexibility you need to manage the direct payment that is being spent, and monitor the account.  This option involves using a MasterCard debit card to pay for services.   

The Direct Payments team will set up the pre-paid account for you.  They will also contact the debit card supplier, Allpay Ltd, who will send you a debit card through the post along with a leaflet to explain how to activate your card.  If you need help to activate your card, you can contact Allpay Ltd, quoting your client number, and they will be able to support you.

Once your pre-paid card is activated, your card will be automatically topped up in advance each month with your direct payment.

Having a pre-paid account means that you do not need to send us records of how your direct payment was spent.  This is done by Allpay Ltd who automatically send the information to the Direct Payments team, including amounts that were debited from the account. 

Here are some of the benefits of having a pre-paid account:

  • it is quick to set up
  • you do not need a separate bank account to make payments
  • you can pay for things over the phone or online
  • you can view your account online at any time of the day, seven days a week
  • you receive monthly statements on your spending and balance
  • if you pay a contribution towards your care, you can set up a Standing Order
  • if you employ staff, e.g. Personal Assistants, their wages can be paid directly into their bank accounts.

If you choose to use your direct payment to employ a Personal Assistant, you must use a payroll company to calculate their wages, National Insurance, tax, pension, etc.  For further details about payroll companies, see section 3 below. 

Using a pre-paid card to pay for care and support

There are many ways payments can be made using a pre-paid card:

  • Over the phone or online: To make payments by phone or online you will need to provide the 16-digit number shown on your pre-paid card, the card expiry date and the 3-digit security number printed on the signature strip on the back of your card.
  • Bank transfer: To make a bank transfer over the phone via a bank helpline you will need to have your card at hand, and be able to answer a security question that you will have set up the first time that you used your card.
  • Pay service providers that accept MasterCard: To make a payment, such as at a till or checkout, or where you need to swipe your card to pay, simply present your pre-paid card, and enter your PIN number. The value of the payment will then be deducted from your card.
  • Pay into a bank account: You can also make payments from your pre-paid card into another bank account online, for example, to pay your Personal Assistant.

Making a financial contribution using a pre-paid card

If your financial assessment has confirmed that you need to make a contribution towards the cost of your care, you can transfer payments from your bank account directly into your pre-paid account.  This can be done online, on the phone, or by contacting your bank to set up a Standing Order.

Contact the Direct Payments team for queries about using a pre-paid card, including payment methods, and how to make a financial contribution

Phone: 020 7974 1899


2.  Pre-paid account that is managed by a suitable person or third party

You can still have a pre-paid account as described above, but nominate someone to manage it for you. For example, it may be in your best interest to receive a direct payment, but you need support to manage the funds. 

The suitable person or third party will help with managing the day-to-day administration of your direct payment while you stay in control of how your care is given.  The suitable person or third party completes an application form to set up a pre-paid card account in their own name so that they can receive the direct payment and make payments on your behalf.

Who you can nominate as a suitable person or third party

The person will be:

- able to manage the direct payments on your behalf

- in most cases, someone who is already involved in your care, for example, a family member or a close friend. It could also be the person who is holding a lasting or enduring power of attorney for you.

A suitable person or third party cannot be someone who is paid to support you, as they are not allowed to make payments to themselves.

Contact Adult Social Care to find out more about nominating a suitable person to manage your pre-paid account

Phone: 020 7974 4000 (select option 1)


3. A payroll company that manages the payments on your behalf

Another way to receive your direct payment is to use a payroll company.  A payroll company would manage your direct payment, hold funds on your behalf, and make payments on your instruction. You still have full control over your direct payment and you are responsible for the appropriate use of your funds. 

Using a payroll company involves a cost, which would be covered by the money in your direct payment. Payroll companies do not need to make payments on your behalf using a pre-paid card, so they would not be issued with a card.

Here are some of the benefits of using a payroll company:

  • direct payments are quick to set up
  • the payroll company makes payments as instructed by you so you do not need to worry about managing the payments
  • the payroll company automatically sends a record of how the payments are being used to the Direct Payments team. There is no need for you to do any financial monitoring as long as all the payments are made through the payroll company
  • if you employ a Personal Assistant, the payroll company will register as an agent on your behalf with HM Revenues and Customs and deal with most aspects, including paperwork relating to the employment of your Personal Assistant.

Using your direct payment to employ staff (Personal Assistants)

Many people who receive direct payment employ their own staff.  If you are employing a PA (Personal Assistant), the payroll company can also pay their wages for you. If you are considering employing staff, Camden’s direct payments support service, Personalisation Support in Camden (PSIC) will be able to support you in the following ways:

  • ensure you are aware of your legal responsibilities as an employer
  • help with drawing up a budget for wages
  • help with drawing up an employment contract with a job description
  • provide a list of payroll companies and support you to complete any paperwork
  • support you to find a PA
  • support you with the recruitment process and interviews
  • provide information about the payroll side of things, such as: working out how much tax needs to be paid, National Insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, and other administrative tasks related to employing your staff

To find out more about using your direct payments to employ staff and choosing a payroll company that meets your needs, contact Personalisation Support in Camden (PSIC)

Phone: 020 7383 4901



4. Using a separate bank account that is set up for direct payment related expenses only

It may be that setting up a separate bank account is the best way for you to receive and manage your direct payment. This could be because you have nominated a suitable person who receives the direct payment on your behalf. 

Further information

Visit the FAQs page for further information about direct payments.

Camden's adult social care direct payments policy is available to download.

To find out more about how you can use direct payments, contact Adult Social Care

Phone: 020 7974 4000 (select option 1)


Carers UK have general information about direct payments

Telephone: 020 7378 4999



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