What is a Direct Payment?

A Direct Payment is a cash payment to help you live independently in your own home. You can use the money to buy and arrange the care and support you need. Receiving a Direct Payment does not affect any other benefits you may already get.

What is a direct payment?

If you are eligible for help from the Council, you can choose to receive all or part of your personal budget as a direct payment. A direct payment can give you greater flexibility over the kind of support you choose and whom you pay to provide this support - you can choose to pay a care agency or can employ your own personal assistant.

If you choose to have a direct payment you will need to sign a Direct Payment Agreement - a contract between the Council and you - which outlines your responsibilities for spending the public money you are given. 

Managing your direct payment

We will arrange for you to get a Direct Payment Prepaid Card and pay your direct payment directly into the account every month. Having a prepaid card is the quickest way of setting up your direct payment and it makes it easier to manage over time.


In some circumstances, it may not be possible for you to manage a prepaid card and you may be able to have your direct payment paid into a bank account, but this must be separate from your main bank account.

Your responsibilities:

A direct payment can offer you greater choice and control over how you meet your care and support needs, but it will also carry some responsibilities:

  • arranging your support as agreed in your care and support plan
  • making the necessary payments
  • making sure that the services you are buying contribute to the outcomes agreed in your plan 
  • keeping track of what's left in your budget
  • showing to the Council how you are spending your money
  • complying with all legal requirements. 

If you employ a Personal Assistant directly, you will become their employer. It's important to understand your responsibilities.


Getting someone else to manage your direct payment

If you prefer, you can ask someone else to manage your direct payment and to pay for your support on your behalf. You can nominate a family member or a friend to do this. 

If you have dementia, a mental health problem or a learning disability you may not have the mental capacity to manage a direct payment by yourself. But you may still be able to receive your personal budget in the form of a direct payment, if there is a suitable person, this could be a family member or friend, who can manage the direct payment on your behalf.

If there is no one suitable to help manage your direct payment, we can arrange for Ruils to manage your account for you.

Ruils Direct Payment Support Service
Phone: 020 8831 6088
Email: dpsupport@ruils.co.uk

Using your direct payment

What you use your direct payment for will depend on your individual circumstances and the needs identified during your assessment. The money should help you look after yourself and manage everyday tasks to stay independent for longer and make sure you can continue getting out and about and accessing work or learning opportunities. You can use your Direct Payment in a flexible way to meet those outcomes:

You could employ someone directly to help you, such as a personal assistant


Or you could engage a care and support worker through a care agency. 


You can also use your direct payment to make other purchases, such as:

  • a small piece of equipment that will support your independence
  • a short break away from home to give your carer a break
  • an activity or class you enjoy, instead of going to a day centre.

If you are not sure what you can use your direct payment for, you should contact us before you spend any money.

You cannot spend your Direct Payment on:

  • anything not related to your care and support
  • residential or nursing care except a short term placement of up to 4 consecutive weeks, also called respite 
  • anything illegal (including paying people cash in hand)
  • employing family members who already live with you
  • household bills, clothes, food, paying off debt
  • services which should be provided by the NHS
  • services normally funded through other benefits or schemes, such as support into employment
  • major daily living equipment or adaptations to your house
  • anything that places you at risk
  • things that do not represent value for money.


If we find that your Direct Payment has not been used to meet the outcomes agreed in your care and support plan, you may be required to repay some or all of your direct payment back to us. We will always discuss the details with you and work with you to agree how you should repay the money.

If there is money left over in your account which is more than eight times your weekly allocation, you may need to make a repayment. We will make sure you have enough money left to pay for your support until you receive your next payment.

What if you're unhappy with the outcome?

If you’re unhappy with the process, your assessment, care and support plan or personal budget we want to hear about it as soon as possible. We recommend that you speak to your allocated worker in the first instance. If you can't come to an agreement, you can let us know in writing what you are unhappy about and why you think the process has been unfair or inaccurate. 

Once we have heard from you, we will look at your concerns and may contact you to discuss the issue. We will always respond to you in writing. If you are still not satisfied, you can use our complaints procedure. 

Useful contacts:

Richmond Council Adult Access Team
Address: Adult Social Services, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ
Phone: 020 8891 7971
Minicom: 18001 020 8891 7971
Email: adultsocialservices@richmond.gov.uk