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Fact sheet

Direct Payments and Individual Budgets

Direct payments for carers

Direct payments are available in England and Wales for anyone who has been assessed as needing help from social services, both service users and carers. In Scotland only service users can apply for direct payments.

They are an alternative to direct provision of services and should be much more flexible, meeting the needs of the individual carer.

For carers, they are normally available to carers aged 16 or over or a parent (including people with parental responsibility for a disabled child). Direct payments are an important element of the personalisation agenda.

What are direct payments for?

Direct payments are used to meet assessed needs, as an alternative to what is on offer (or not) from the Local Authority.

They can be used to buy services from an organisation or agency. This can include support that may help maintain their health and well-being, for example, driving lessons, holiday, membership of a club, evening classes, regular outing, relaxation therapies, a mobile phone, as well as paying for an agency worker or employing someone.

Carers have different needs and so the services they buy may be different too. The law prevents the carer's direct payment being used to provide a service for the cared for person.

Direct Payments in Scotland

A lack of information on direct payments limits their use across Scotland, according to a report by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, published in September 2009:

Direct Payments Report - Scotland, 2009 (380 KB)