This page is aimed at children and young people who receive support through their personal budgets or personal health budgets and take this as a direct payment.
A priority for this government is that everybody receives the care and support they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This applies as equally to people who receive their care and support through direct payments, as it does to people who receive care and support in other ways.
For direct payment holders, we know that direct payments can enable you to have more choice and control so that you can put in place the care and support that works for you, and achieve the goals you want to achieve.
- We recognise that during this time, direct payments can bring their own unique challenges. For example, if you previously used your direct payment to join community classes, this might not have been possible, and there might be local lockdowns in place that mean you cannot access the care and support you would normally receive, in the usual way.
Similarly, if you usually use your direct payment to employ personal assistants (PAs), you may be experiencing changes – for example, if you or your PA has COVID-19 symptoms. We understand that this can be a difficult and uncertain time.
- That is why we want to use this document to set out, clearly, what you should expect. There is nothing in the Coronavirus Act or the Care Act easements guidance which suggests that direct payments could be stopped – instead there should be greater levels of flexibility, to ensure you continue to receive the care and support you need to keep safe.
To achieve this, there should be discussion between yourself and local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to make sure you receive the support you need during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Your safety, and the safety of those who provide care and support for you, is vital. That is why you should be able to access the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for those who provide care and support for you.
- During the COVID-19 outbreak, every effort should be made to ensure your direct payment continues to meet your care and support needs in the best way for you and help you achieve the goals you want to achieve.
The key messages in the direct payment guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic are:
a) Your direct payments should continue as before. These remain as important as other types of provision, and LAs and CCGs must make every effort to ensure that your budget and payment are maintained and supported.
b) LAs and CCGs will proactively communicate with you to ensure you stay safe and are assured about the LA/CCG's concern for your wellbeing.
c) The government expects LAs, CCGs and direct payment holders to adopt and enable the most flexible possible use of your direct payment to manage any issues arising from COVID-19, as set out in the relevant legislation.
d) The government consider all PAs to be key workers, both now and in the future.
e) Anybody with coronavirus symptoms, including unpaid carers and personal care assistants, can get a COVID-19 test. This includes home tests delivered to their door.
f) All personal assistants and professional carers who do not live in the same household as you but provide you with close contact care, are entitled to free PPE.
You can access free PPE either through your local resilience forum (those which will continue with PPE distribution) or through your LA or CCG.
The organisation funding your direct payment – either your LA or CCG – has responsibility to ensure that you and PAs that support you, have the PPE needed to keep safe.
If you cannot access PPE through the routes set out above, they must support you to get the PPE you and your PAs need during this time, as quickly as possible, to keep you safe.
g) All PAs are now eligible for a free winter flu vaccination from their GP or a local community pharmacy. Direct payment recipients should ensure that the PAs they employ are aware of the free flu vaccination and understand how to get it.
This includes making sure that their PAs receive the proof of entitlement, which can be found within the bespoke guidance for free flu vaccination. Neither individuals nor their PAs will have to pay for the flu vaccination for PAs – it will be paid for by the NHS Complementary Scheme.
Flexible use of direct payments during the pandemic
Using your direct payment during the pandemic
While we're all having to cope with COVID-19, the government expects LAs and CCGs to continue to give you as much flexibility as possible in how you use your direct payment.
What matters most is that you are able to use your direct payment in a way that allows you to stay safe and well, and continue to get the care and support you need.
Where possible, you should keep using your direct payment as agreed in your care and support plan. But there may be situations where you need to organise your care and support in different ways as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
This is allowed. It has always been possible under the Care Act and direct payment regulations for you to use your direct payments flexibly providing it continues to meet your assessed needs.
We expect LAs and CCGs to be as flexible as possible when you have made reasonable decisions to use your direct payment differently in a way that keeps you safe and avoids your care breaking down.
Discuss with your social care reviewing officers how you would like to use your direct payment and how that will help ensure your child’s needs are met.
Accessing emergency funding from your CCG or LA to ensure you receive the care and support you need
During this time, we understand there may be additional and unanticipated costs to your care and support. There may be occasions where you therefore need to request additional funding in an emergency because you do not have enough money to cover these additional costs and receive the care and support you need.
In these circumstances you should discuss this need with your LA or CCG immediately, who will consider this. Requests for additional emergency funding to prevent care breaking down will be prioritised, and LAs and CCGs should respond to any request as quickly as possible to ensure the care and support you need, is given.