Direct Payments Q&A

17th November 2013

  • We recently met with Amanda Hill (SNIPS service manager) and Liz Roe (Service Manager Strategy and Partnership) to discuss issues raised by parents in relation to Direct Payments. Here’s a summary:

    Converting services into Direct Payments

    Families have a right to receive Direct Payment instead of a social care service which they have been assessed as needing. The word “assessed” is important here; a service which is not based on an assessment (e.g. a SNIPS service accessed via a parent application form) does not qualify. Families who are accessing such a service must get Family CAF completed before they can convert the service into a Direct Payment.

    Delays in setting up Direct Payments

    Amanda said that delays usually occurred when families had trouble recruiting a Personal Assistant. For families who had already found a suitable person, the Direct Payment should take no longer than 6-8 weeks to set up. Parents also reported delays caused by staff filling in the wrong forms, or not passing on important information.

    When can a request for Direct Payments be turned down?

    Such a request can only be turned down if the Direct Payment would not meet the family’s assessed needs; for example, if the family was in a crisis situation and it would take too long to set up a Direct Payment. However, in such a situation it might be possible to agree an interim solution, such as using a PA from an agency while a long-term PA was being recruited.

    Do families HAVE to accept a Direct Payment instead of a service?

    No, Direct Payments are voluntary. Even if a service closes, users MUST be offered alternative services, not just Direct Payments.

    Claw-back alert!

    Families in receipt of Direct Payments should be aware that Sheffield City Council’s Audit Team is clawing back unspent money on a monthly basis. Where families want to accrue Direct Payments to use at a later date (e.g. during school holidays), this must be clearly recorded in the care plan to avoid a claw-back.

    Some families have received letters from the Council which address their disabled child as if they were an adult who might have to make a contribution towards their social care services. This is incorrect, as children’s social care services are not means-tested.