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Introduction to Direct Payments

Direct Payments are payments made to a disabled person (or a representative of their choosing) into a bank account or prepaid card. These payments are made in advance, usually every four weeks. They enable people to purchase and arrange their own support to meet their needs. The aim of direct payments is to give people more choice, greater flexibility and more control over the support they get.

People can use their direct payments to choose how to have their care provided. Many people choose a Personal Assistant (PA) as a solution to their care needs. Some choose to use a care agency.

Direct Payments can be made to people of all ages. For children and young people under 16, payments are made to an adult who has parental responsibility.

You can receive Direct Payments if:

  • You have been assessed as needing social care services to support you with daily living
  • You have a disability with social care needs
  • You consent to receiving a Direct Payment and either you or your representative can manage the payment

Individuals who already receive support from Adult Social Care can choose to have a direct payment. Those who do not currently receive support can request an assessment.

The council will carry out an assessment of needs to determine whether any support services identified in the care and support plan can be provided via a Personal Budget, which is the amount of money they will pay to use towards any social care and support needed.

Receiving a direct payment will not affect any benefits and will not be counted as income in any assessments.

If Leicester City Council determines that you have eligible needs, they will outline these in a care and support plan, and you may then request a direct payment to meet these needs.

Support can be provided in various ways, including:

  • Nominating a suitable person
  • Having the council arrange and provide support
  • Having the council arrange for a Direct Payment Support Service (Purple DPSS) or agency to provide a service
  • A combination of the above options

The Direct Payment allowance will vary from person to person, depending on the agreed amount determined during the assessment or review. The Direct Payment amount will be sufficient to cover the cost of a service of the same quality and quantity that the council would have otherwise provided through their arranged care services (commissioned care package).

Support from Adult Social Care is not free. Leicester City Council charges adults for care and support services like home care to ensure everyone eligible accesses the help they need.

During the assessment and support planning process, you will also have a financial assessment. This is separate from your needs assessment. Some people may need to pay a contribution towards their direct payment, called an assessed charge.

How much you pay depends on your financial situation. Some people may get financial assistance, while others may need to pay for some or all of their care from their savings and income.

The council will assess your finances, considering the cost of support and what you need to pay. They will look at your income, savings, investments, and expenses (rent, mortgage, household bills). The Adult Social Care Charging Policy explains the financial assessment rules, how charges are calculated, and the review and appeals processes. Your Social Worker can provide more details if needed.

For more information on the financial assessment and charging policy, please refer to the council’s Adult Social Care Charging Policy.

The assessment outcome determines the level of support needed, and you will receive enough direct payment money to meet your support needs. If you need to pay towards your support, you will add your contribution to the direct payment to cover the full cost of your care package.

Some people get financial support from Continuing Health Care. If this applies to you, your Direct Payment will cover the difference between what Continuing Health Care provides and the total cost of your support. You can discuss this with your Social Care Worker.

1. Prepayment Card

A prepayment card is a debit card linked to a virtual bank account where the council deposits your direct payment. The account is managed by a third-party company. If you use a prepayment card, you won’t need to submit any statements to the council.

Your direct payment will be paid four weeks in advance to your prepayment card. The amount deposited will be the agreed sum in your care and support plan, minus any required contribution. You will need to pay your contribution into the prepaid card account via a standing order, either weekly or monthly.

When using your prepayment card, you agree to:

  • Keep your prepayment card safe and not let anyone else use it.
  • Immediately call 0844 2255 729/033 080 0102 to cancel your card if it is lost or if you suspect it has been used by someone else.
  • Only spend the money on the prepayment card as specified in your care package.
  • Follow the separate terms and conditions set by the prepayment card provider, which will be sent to you with the card.
  • Set up a standing order to pay the council your contribution towards the cost of your care.

2. Direct Payment to a Bank Account

With this option, money is paid into a UK bank account. This can be an account held by you or your representative, but it must be a separate account used only for direct payments transactions, clearly showing how the money has been spent on your support.

You will need to send statements and receipts to the council quarterly (or whenever requested) as evidence of spending towards your care and support needs.

3. Purple Direct Payment Support Service

If you need assistance managing your direct payment, you can choose support from Purple Direct Payment Support Service. Purple Direct Payment Support Service can manage the money allocated for your support needs and handle payments to the people or organisations providing that support. Purple Direct Payment Support Service will also manage timesheets for your personal assistant and handle tax, National Insurance contributions, and HMRC responsibilities.

If you select Purple Direct Payment Support Service, your direct payment will be paid directly into their account. They will then manage it on your behalf, ensuring all providers receive their payments.

Purple Direct Payment Support Service will work closely with the council to provide details of your spending. If you are required to contribute towards your care package, they will advise you on the best way to pay your contributions and manage these payments on behalf of the council.

Employment advice and guidance (EAG)

We offer independent information, advice and guidance to support you through the process of employing your own PA, assisting with:

  • Recruitment of a PA
  • Advertising
  • Payroll service information
  • Contracts of employment
  • DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) checks
  • Reference checks
  • Employers liability insurance
  • Budgeting
  • Support with completing auditing information
Contact our EAG team

Recruiting a Personal Assistant

Purple Match : Our PA recruitment service

  • Introducing “Purple Match” – our innovative service for connecting Direct Payment holders with suitable Personal Assistants
  • Access to register of Personal Assistants
  • Dedicated recruitment team assistance in finding ideal match
  • Collaborative approach to understanding the unique requirements of a role
  • Help in creating compelling job advertisements on “Purple Match” job board
Learn more about Purple Match
  1. Submit your vacancy request here
  2. Vacancy sent to Purple Match Hertfordshire register

  3. PA’s on register submit interest

  4. Interested PA profiles sent directly to you

  5. Arrange interviews/meets directly with PA

  6. Additional secure PA information sent once job offer is made
    e.g., NI number, date of birth, gender, completed document checks

Employed PA (PAYE)

  • The Employer (direct payment holder) provides a contract that details the terms and conditions of employment including PA benefits and disciplinary procedures.
  • The PA must perform their work personally and cannot send someone else to do this.
    The Employer (direct payment holder) self directs the support they wish to receive from the PA in line with their care and support plan.
  • The PA is paid through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and National Insurance payments will be made on their behalf by the PA Employer.
  • The PA will receive statutory benefits, such as statutory sick pay.
    The Employer (direct payment holder) must enrol eligible PA’s into a pension scheme and provide holiday pay.
  • The Employer (direct payment holder) will take out Employers Liability Insurance which can be paid for from the direct payments.

Self Employed PA

  • Responsibility of the person receiving support to check self-employed status.
  • The self-employed PA and the person receiving support mutually agreeing terms & conditions and how support is provided – Purple can provide a template Contract for Services.
  • If determined not self-employed, then there may be financial liability (i.e. a Tax liability) for the person receiving support and the PA.
  • Self-employed PA’s will have own Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number from HMRCs.
  • There is an initial period, during which sole traders may not yet have a UTR number.
  • The PA is not entitled to sick or holiday pay which may mean the person receiving support can pay the PA a higher hourly rate.
  • Less administration as self-employed PA’s are responsible to pay their own Tax, NI, Pension and organise their own liability insurance. It’s advisable to ask for a copy this insurance.

For information about applying for Direct Payments


Telephone: 0116 305 0004
Individuals who are deaf or with hearing impairments: text 07949 633 788 
Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 5pm. Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Out of hours Emergency Duty Team: 0116 255 1606

If you haven’t had an assessment from Leicester City Council before, the easiest and quickest way to determine your eligibility for care and support is to complete their online needs assessment form on the Adult Social Care Portal : Click here to complete a Self-Assessment form online

Useful resources from Leicester County Council