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Independent support for Adult direct payments

As part of Camden Council’s Direct Payment service, there is independent specialist support provided by People Plus to help you manage your Direct Payment. The service is for anyone who receives a direct payment, including their carers and families.

Click on the below links for information on how People Plus can support you.

People Plus's contact details

People Plus can help you to set up a direct payment and provide ongoing support the whole time you receive direct payments. If there are any changes to your Support Plan, or you have any queries about the direct payment, People Plus can advise you.

People Plus's contact details are:


Phone: 0330 123 2815

Website: Camden | PeoplePlus

Using direct payments to meet your agreed outcomes

To start receiving support from People Plus, you need to be referred them by your Social Care Professional or Health Care Professional.  Once referred, People Plus will phone you to arrange an initial in-person meeting and take you through the steps of what you need to do and what Adult Social Care need to do.

At this stage, there is no commitment to have a direct payment set and you are free to change your mind. 

A direct payment gives you flexibility and choice to meet your care needs, but it must be used in the way agreed in your Support Plan.

People Plus will talk you through the various options to help you decide what is the best way to use a direct payment to meet your needs.

The various options include:

1) Recruiting your own Personal (Care) Assistant

You may wish to recruit your own Personal (Care) Assistant. This means you become an employer and you have more choice and control over who your Personal Assistant is. 

People Plus will explain what the legal responsibilities are and help you budget for staff costs. People Plus can also support with the recruitment process, such as writing a job advert, job description, preparing for the interview stage and drawing up an employment contract.

More information is available below to help you consider whether you want to be an employer. 

2) Hiring a Personal (Care) Assistant from a homecare agency

You may wish to hire a Personal (Care) Assistant through a homecare agency.  This means the homecare agency is the employer and you have less control over choosing your PA. 

People Plus will explain what that involves and support you to set up payments to the agency.

3) Purchasing non-personal care services

You may wish to use your direct payment to pay for services, such as activities or classes. People Plus can support you by signposting to what is available.

Setting up payments for services and staff that you employ

After a meeting with People Plus to talk through the various options of using a direct payment, and if you would like to go ahead and receive a direct payment, Adult Social Care will set up a payment account and put your details on their system. People Plus will support you with this process and explain what you need to do.

If you wish to recruit your own Personal (Care) Assistant, there will be some budgeting required that People Plus will help you with.

When you agree to receive a direct payment, you are responsible for ensuring services you purchase and staff you employ get paid.

Depending on the services you are purchasing, People Plus will explain the options for setting up the payments to ensure they are paid on time.

The options include using a Prepaid Card, a managed Payroll service or a separate bank account.

1. Using a Pre-paid card to receive and make payments

A pre-paid card is one way you can receive your direct payment and pay for services. 

It is a MasterCard debit card provided by Allpay Ltd.  Adult Social Care tops up the pre-paid card with your direct payment fund so that you can pay for services online or over the phone. People Plus will explain in more detail how a pre-paid card works.

If you wish to use a pre-paid card, People Plus will contact the Direct Payments Team in Adult Social Care and get the process started. You will then receive a letter from Allpay Ltd that provides the registration and setting up details, your client number, a pre-paid card and a leaflet to explain how to activate the card.

Allpay Ltd can help you to activate your card if needed.  Just quote your client number when you contact them, and they will be able to support you.

The card must be activated first before Adult Social Care is able to transfer the direct payment funds.  Funds are transferred to the card on a monthly basis. 

Advantages of a pre-paid card

The pre-paid card has a number of advantages:

  • it is quick to set up

  • you do not need a separate bank account to make payments

  • it gives you flexibility to manage your direct payment and check your account, including viewing your account online 7 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 such as Personal (Care) Assistants, their wages can be paid directly into their bank accounts. But you must use a payroll company to calculate their wages, tax & NI, pension, etc.

Adult Social Care is required to carry out regular checks to see how you are using your direct payment fund. If you use a pre-paid card, the Direct Payments Team in Adult Social Care will contact the card company for any queries that arise.  The card company will also submit the required quarterly documents on your behalf.

How to pay for services using a pre-paid card

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

  • Online or over the phone: 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 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.

  • Paying at a till or checkout: Where it has been specifically agreed that you may use your pre-paid card for purchases at a till or checkout, or where you need to swipe your pre-paid  card to pay, simply present your pre-paid card, and enter your PIN number. The payment amount will then be deducted from your card.

Making a financial contribution using a pre-paid card

If you are required to make a contribution as agreed in your Support Plan, you can transfer payments from your bank account directly into your pre-paid card account.  This can be done online, on the phone, or by contacting your bank to set up a Standing Order.

2. Using a Managed Payroll to receive and make payments

A managed payroll service is another way to receive your direct payment and pay for services. This means you choose to have your direct payment fund paid directly to the managed payroll service.  The payroll company then takes on responsibility for  the financial administration of your direct payment and they make payments to services etc upon your instructions. Also, you stay in control of your care.

Advantages of using a Managed Payroll

A managed payroll may be the preferred option for many people.  For others, it will be the payment method they will be required to move to if they are unable to manage their account appropriately using other methods.

Using a managed payroll incurs a small fee but it will save a lot of time and trouble in the long run because it takes on the full administrative responsibility of making payments. 

Adult Social Care is required to carry out regular checks to see how you are using your direct payment fund. If you use a managed payroll service, the Direct Payments Team in Adult Social Care will contact the payroll service for any queries that arise as part of the checks that they make.  The payroll service will also submit the required quarterly documents on your behalf. 

There are many payroll companies on the market.  You can either do your own research to select a payroll company or People Plus can provide contact details of companies that other direct payment recipients in Camden are using.

Making a financial contribution using a managed payroll service

If you are required to make a contribution as agreed in your Support Plan, you can set up a Standing Order to the payroll company from your bank account. 

Payroll support if you employ a Personal (Care) Assistant

If you wish to employ a Personal (Care) Assistant, there are a number of admin or payroll tasks such as calculating tax and National Insurance. These tasks can be easily completed by a payroll service.

A payroll service can also deal with HM Revenues and Customs on your behalf, and help you get registered with the Inland Revenue as a new employer.  They can also do other tasks such as process payments for you, such as staff wages and produce payslips. 

Many payroll companies also support with the day to day management of money and payments. 

Using a payroll company incurs a small fee and People Plus can support with budgeting for these costs.   In the long run, a payroll service will save a lot of time and trouble because they take on the full financial administrative responsibility.  However, it means that your direct payment funds are held by the payroll company, which they put in a separate bank account.

But payments are only made upon your given instructions so you are still responsible for managing the funds. Also, you stay in control over your care.

There are many payroll companies on the market.  You can either do your own research to select a payroll company or People Plus can provide contact details of companies that other direct payment recipients in Camden are using.

3. Using a Separate Bank Account to receive and make payments

In some circumstances, a separate bank account may be the most suitable way to manage your direct payment.  This would involve increased responsibilities on your part when Adult Social Care makes checks your direct payments, such as submitting regular, detailed documents when requested.

How direct payment funds are transferred into your account

Adult Social Care process funds on a monthly basis in advance. They are transferred into the account of the person who is responsible for the financial side of a direct payment.  This would be the person who has read and signed the Direct Payment Agreement – that is either the person who is receiving the care or a Suitable Person.

When a direct payment is first set up it, whenever the agreed start date is, a part payment will generally be made for the period to the end of that first calendar month.

Similarly, whenever a direct payment is increased, the additional funds for the remainder of that month will generally be paid from the date of the increase.

If a person has been assessed to pay a contribution, the direct payment they receive monthly excludes the amount they are required to contribute.

Funds are transferred to you either by a pre-paid card that you have registered for, or to a payroll company that you have chosen, or to a separate personal bank account.

Financial checks that Camden makes on your direct payment account

Purchases that are made using a direct payment may only be for the needs agreed in your Support Plan.

So that Adult Social Care can ensure direct payments are used properly they are required to regularly check direct payment accounts.

If you use a pre-paid card or payroll service, Adult Social Care will contact these companies as part of the checking process.

People Plus can explain what the checking process involves and what you need to do to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Checking cash payments

If you are using a pre-paid card, there may be exceptional circumstances where it is agreed by Adult Social Care that payment may be made in cash withdrawn from the pre-paid card at an ATM.   

In these circumstances, the proportion of the weekly budget agreed to be spent using cash will need to be recorded for checking purposes. You should discuss with your Social Care Professional or Healthcare Professional to agree how Adult Social Care will check the cash payments are used appropriately.

Adult Social Care will check the cash portion of your direct payment fund every 1 or 2 years.  Occasionally there may be a dispute regarding the spend that requires back-up evidence.  Therefore, it is essential that you keep records such as receipts for 6 years as part of the checks that Adult Social Care is required to make. 

You may also be asked to submit additional information from time to time so proper records of spend must be kept. This may be supplying receipts or the service providers’ details to us on a regular basis.

Being an employer – what it involves

If you are considering employing a Personal (Care) Assistant, you can contact People Plus to discuss what is involved.  You can also visit the Skills for Care website which has an Employing Personal Assistants toolkit to help you think about your responsibilities as an employer. 

Also, below are some points that you may help you to decide:

  • If you are considering using a PA provided by a homecare agency, you can find out about getting a service agreement in place with the agency to ensure you receive care to a standard you expect

  • Recruiting a Personal (Care) Assistant in London has its challenges arising from a shortage of PAs.  People Plus will do their best to support you to write a job advert and advise where the advert can be placed to ensure effective publicity

  • If you have any questions about recruiting a Personal (Care) Assistant, contact People Plus in the first instance by email, or phone 0330 123 2815

  • There are restrictions on who you can employ.  People that live with you cannot be employed as your Personal (Care) Assistant unless there are exceptional circumstances. But you may employ someone you live with to manage the financial and administration side of your direct payment, if Adult Social Care agrees it is necessary

  • You may employ a relative who doesn’t live with you to be your Personal (Care) Assistant

  • As an employer, you have responsibilities to your employee.  This includes: paying your PA at least the minimum wage, ensuring you deduct tax and NI from their wages, paying their NI contribution, getting employers’ liability insurance, and others. People Plus can provide more details about your legal responsibilities. Email People Plus at or phone 0330 123 2815

  • As an employer you are required to check that a prospective employer is eligible to work in the UK. 

  • If you are recruiting someone to be your Personal (Care) Assistant, you are strongly advised to request an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).  A DBS check is to see if someone is fit to work with adults and children for safeguarding purposes.  It enables employers to make safer decisions regarding whom they recruit. People Plus will be able to tell you more about how to get a DBS check

  • Using your direct payment to employ a Personal (Care) Assistant may involve some setting up costs.  For example, getting a DBS check requires a one-off fee that you need to pay for. 

  • If you are employing someone for the first time, People Plus can provide advice on managing your staff, such as conducting performance reviews and providing access to activities or training.  Email People Plus at or phone 0330 123 2815

  • If you need support with employment issues you can contact People Plus in the first instance.  Alternatively, the Camden Advice Network,, offers free and independent advice for Camden residents

Support available for employers

If you employ a Personal (Care) Assistant, People Plus will ensure you receive all the support you need.  This includes:

  • ensuring quality of care that your Personal (Care) Assistant provides is to a standard you expect, such as by providing written guidelines for supporting you to meet your care needs

  • agreeing reasonable expectations for the role of your Personal (Care) Assistant and a code of conduct that may include time keeping and boundary setting

  • identifying training opportunities to develop your Personal (Care) Assistant’s skills, such as lifting and handling; health and safety; epilepsy management; how staff can support you to make day to day priorities about your care and make good choices (eg. Talk for Health training You can also visit the Skills for Care website to find out how to access some of the essential training on offer

  • contingency planning and risk assessment such as making plans for unexpected events and ensuring your care needs continue to be met.  This includes making a contingency plan and budgeting so that you have sufficient funds in your direct payment account to cover emergency situations.

  • recalculating budgets such as when direct payment rates are updated to reflect inflation or an increase in the London Living Wage. When this happens, we will write to inform you that the rate has been adjusted. Changes to the rate may mean you need to reset your budget, which People Plus can help you with.

The things that need to be budgeted for are staff wages, holiday pay, sick pay, tax & NI, and other costs. People Plus can also help you work out a pay rate for your Personal (Care) Assistant.

Employing staff and contingency costs

1. Why contingency costs are needed

If you employ staff, it is advisable to calculate or budget for sufficient funds to pay for expected costs as well as unexpected costs and one-off events.

When your direct payment is being set up, People Plus will explain what contingency costing is and what the calculations are so that you are clear from the outset. They will also be able to answer any questions you have.

It is important that you have enough contingency so that your care continues to be provided when the unexpected happens.  This could be things like if:

  • your staff is on sick leave and temporary cover is required

  • your staff is unavailable due to urgent annual leave and you need to find cover

  • there is a short-term increase in your care needs and you require additional support

If your care needs have significantly increased and you need additional support over a longer period of time, please contact Adult Social Care by email at or phone 020 7974 4000 (select option 1) to review your Support Plan and have your direct payment increased accordingly so that you do not run out of contingency funds.

2. How much contingency can be built up

Recipients may hold up to 6 weeks’ contingency on their direct payment account.  The arrangement is temporary and it will be reviewed in due course.

3. Checking your contingency levels

As part of your annual Support Plan and direct payment review, the Direct Payments Team is required to check your direct payment account to see whether you have a sufficient level of contingency funds. 

If the contingency fund is low, the Direct Payments Team will try to determine why this is and look at what expenditures have been made.  Also, if you have been assessed as requiring to contribute towards your care costs, the Team will check how regular the contributions are made. 

Other things that the Direct Payments Team checks on are expenditures that are not part of meeting your agreed care needs, or whether contingency funds have needed to be used because of unexpected situations such as a Personal (Care) Assistant going on sick leave.

If your account has more than the 6 weeks’ amount currently allowed for contingency, the Direct Payment Team will need to understand why that is. Sometimes, it may be necessary to redeem any amount that is over the 6 weeks back to Adult Social Care.

4. Ensuring your contingency remains within the permitted level

To manage your contingency so that it doesn’t go above the permitted level, you can regularly monitor your direct payment account and check the balance.

If you use a prepaid card or personal bank account, you can check the balance to ensure the funds remain below the 6 weeks’ contingency. 

If you use a managed payroll provider, you can request a balance on a regular basis to monitor your contingency level.

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