Social care personal budgets and Direct Payments - Disability Social Care 0-19


Self-directed support gives you more choice, control and flexibility in how the identified social care needs of your disabled child are met.

If a child or young adult with disabilities has had an assessment from social care and is eligible for support, rather than being allocated services from us, you can choose the support or services you feel will best meet agreed outcomes, needs and your circumstances through the allocation of a personal budget.

A personal budget is an amount of money that we believe will meet the agreed social care outcomes and needs. It can be a Direct Payment or services. Direct Payments give you more flexibility and choice to arrange and purchase support or services in the way that best suits you.

Receiving Direct Payments

If you choose Direct Payments you will be allocated a sum of money based on the agreed outcomes. This can be used to buy things that meet the needs and agreed outcomes set out in the care/support plan. For children the money will be paid to the parent or carer and for those over 18 it will paid to the person themselves, or to someone else who will manage it on their behalf.

Your responsibilities

Direct Payments can only be spent on things that meet the outcomes agreed in the support plan. It is cash sum of money that can be used to buy services and support, for example to pay a Personal Assistant you employ to support your child or to buy support from a care agency. It could be used to pay for activities and short breaks.

You will need to provide information to us to show what you have spent the money on and keep track of how much you have spent, for example receipts, bank statements or through pre-paid card records. To help you manage your Direct Payment we provide free access to information, support and advice from PeoplePlus who are commissioned by us to support direct payments.

The Personal Budget sits alongside ordinary parental responsibilities and does not replace what you would normally spend on your children, for example paying for food, transport and holidays.

Short Breaks

We produce a self directed support price list, detailing our short break services or those we commission and the costs, so you can see how your personal budget can be used for community support, clubs, groups and holiday clubs.

Find out more on our Self Directed Support Price List page and also on the Short Breaks page.

Employing a personal assistant

If you decide to take all or some of your social care personal budget as a direct payment and use it to employ a personal assistant you may need some help in understanding the rules of becoming an employer or the legality of direct payments.

We will automatically refer you to PeoplePlus (an independent) direct payment support service for you to discuss your personal needs. This advice service is free. 


If you employ a personal assistant you can choose to use a payroll service to support with making payments to workers, calculating national insurance, tax contributions, pensions and holiday entitlements. There are many payroll service providers and different levels of payroll support. You can choose whichever one suits you best. Different payroll services will charge different fees. You can still use PeoplePlus’s free advice service even if you choose to use another payroll service.

Employer's Liability Insurance

If you choose a direct payment and employ your own carers you need to purchase appropriate Employer’s Liability Insurance. This covers you if someone you employ is injured while working and claims compensation from you. As with all insurance there are many companies who provide it and cost will vary. PeoplePlus can advise and assist with the purchase of appropriate insurance.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, formally known as CRB)

Direct payments cannot be used to employ a personal assistant unless they have a current DBS check in place. The cost of the DBS check is the employee’s responsibility. If you are employing a Personal Assistant (PA) you will need to ensure that they have a current Enhanced DBS check.

If your child is cared for in the Personal Assistant’s home then all people living at the PA’s home address over the age of 16 years will also require a DBS check.

PeoplePlus can also organise the DBS check for your employee.

Receiving a commissioned service rather than Direct Payments

If you decide not to receive a Direct Payment and would prefer to receive a service from us, you may be referred to our Community Support Service. They support children and young people who have moderate to severe learning disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory impairments and complex health needs.

Find out more on our Community Support Service page.


  1. Pre-paid card change process fact sheet
  2. Direct Payments - How they work in Cambridgeshire


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