Direct payments: Answering frequently asked questions

Question 01. What is a direct payment?

A direct payment (DP) is money given to individuals by social services departments to buy the support they have been assessed as needing. This is in lieu of services, and there is no set financial limit.

Guidance on direct payments, including 'easy read' versions, can be found on the Department of Health website.

The Welsh Assembly also provides information and guidance for authorities in Wales, with the corresponding regulations that came into effect in August 2004.

You can also access information on direct payments from the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL).

In April 2003, regulations came into force that required councils in England to offer direct payments to all people using community care services.

Direct payments have also become a key performance indicator for local authorities (LAs): Performance Assessment Framework Indicator AO/C51, Department of Health.

Direct payments have been framed in terms of support (not illness or incapacity); in terms of ensuring that people can have the kind and amount of support they need to live their lives as fully, as freely and with as many choices and opportunities as they can. They can have more choice, they can have more control because they can, with help and independent guidance, get the kind of support and assistance they need to live their lives.

Professor Peter Beresford, Centre for Citizen Participation, Brunel University in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation publication: 'Implementing direct payments in mental health'. (4)