Direct payments for carers

Direct payments are available from Health and Social Care Trusts for someone who is assessed as needing help from social services. You can usually receive a direct payment if you are a carer aged 16 or over.

What direct payments can be used for

As a carer, you can use direct payments to buy services the Trust agrees you need to support you in your caring role.
You can:

  • buy services from an organisation
  • employ someone to provide you with help

This includes practical help such as driving lessons or support that may help maintain your health and well-being, for example a holiday.  If you are assessed as needing domestic help, you may ask for a direct payment and buy the support services you need.

What direct payments cannot be used for

You cannot use direct payments to buy services for the person you care for.  You must spend direct payments on support you were assessed as needing in your Carer’s Assessment.

You  cannot use direct payments to pay for a service from:

  • your spouse or partner
  • close relatives
  • anyone who lives in your household

unless you recruited them specifically to be a live-in employee. There can be exceptional circumstances which the Trust can agree with you.


If you already receive social services

Your Trust has to offer you direct payments in place of the services you currently receive. In some circumstances you cannot get direct payments. Your Trust can explain these circumstances. 

If you're not receiving social services

To get direct payments, you need to contact your Trust to ask them to assess your needs.

Direct payments for people with disabilities

If you are disabled and assessed as needing help from social services, you could receive direct payments. If you have parental responsibility for a child with a disability, you can receive direct payments to pay for various services or support your child needs.

How much you can get

The amount you receive depends on the Trust’s assessment of your needs. The Trust makes payments to your bank, building society, Post Office or National Savings account.

Effect on other benefits

Direct payments do not affect any other benefits you may be receiving.

How to apply for direct payments 

If you already get services from your local Trust, ask about direct payments. If you are applying for services for the first time, your Trust should discuss direct payments with you when they assess your needs.

If your caring circumstances change

If the needs of the person you care for change, this could alter your caring role in the long or short term. Contact your Trust about any changes immediately. They can reassess the support services you require and your level of direct payments.


The Trust can review direct payments when a child or a family's needs change, just as they do when families receive services directly from a Trust.

Guide to receiving Direct Payments booklet

Read the Department of Health's information booklet about requesting and accepting direct payments.

Direct payments for social services

Direct payments are made by a Trust to someone they assess as needing social care and support services. This is not the same as direct payment, the method used to pay pensions and working age benefits directly into a bank or building society account.

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