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Popular Questions

Answers to some of the most popular questions we get asked

Find the answers you need to help decide if Fish Insurance is the correct choice for your cover

  • Q1.

    What are direct payments?

    A.

    Direct payments were introduced in April 1997 to help give users of social services greater choice and control over the services they need. Instead of receiving community care services provided directly by local authorities, service users can receive payments from their council to choose and purchase their own services, such as employing a personal assistant.

  • Q2.

    Who can access direct payments?

    A.

    The vast majority of people currently supported by social services are eligible for direct payments. If you are not receiving social services you will need to be assessed by your local council to see if you are eligible. Typically the criteria for eligibility are that you are disabled and aged over 16 or a parent or carer with parental responsibility for a disabled child. Direct payments are also open to people aged over 65 to fund non-residential and other care services. However, direct payments may not be used to fund permanent residential care.

  • Q3.

    What can they be used for?

    A.

    Direct payments can be used to purchase the services and equipment which your local council has assessed you need. Councils cannot specify which service providers you choose and their aim should be l to give you the power to determine how best to meet your needs. However, they will need to be satisfied that the support and arrangements agreed are being provided. Services which you may choose to buy could include employing a personal assistant or agency to support your independent living by assisting with personal and domestic tasks such as housework or going out to shop, study and so on.

  • Q4.

    What can they not be used for?

    A.

    Permanent residential care is a excluded although, if your council agrees that you need it, you may be able to purchase short-term residential care. Unless exceptional circumstances apply you may not employ a close relative who lives with you. However, whilst restrictions apply, local authorities are generally becoming increasingly imaginative and flexible in their application of direct payments.

  • Q5.

    How much are they worth?

    A.

    The payments you receive will be calculated according to the assessment your council makes of your needs. Payments will cover the number of hours of support required according to your care plan, based on you paying at least the minimum wage and including tax and employers’ National Insurance contributions.

  • Q6.

    Do I have to choose between direct payments and local authority services?

    A.

    No. You can have a mixed package of care which includes some services funded by direct payments and some services provided by your council.

  • Q7.

    How are direct payments paid?

    A.

    They are paid directly into your own bank, building society, Post Office or National Savings account. Alternatively, if you need a carer to collect your money or are registered blind, you can receive a cheque which can be cashed at the Post Office.

  • Q8.

    How can I apply for direct payments?

    A.

    If you are already receiving social services you should ask your local council. If you are applying for social services then your social worker should talk through direct payments with you when assessing your need. For contact details for your local authority click here.

  • Q9.

    What must I consider when employing a personal assistant?

    A.

    In giving you greater choice and control over your care, direct payments also give you responsibilities. If you employ a personal assistant or carer you have statutory legal liabilities. For example, if your PA suffers a personal injury through an accident occurring whilst working for you then you may be liable to pay damages. As an employer you are also responsible, among other things for: Meeting the requirements of equal opportunities laws such as the Equal Pay Act, Sexual Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act. Failure to comply with these laws could result in a court case or industrial tribunal awarding damages. Where can I get advice and help? If in doubt about your obligations and how to meet them you should seek professional advice. This is available around the clock and at no additional expense under our Independent Living Insurance policy. The same policy also provides cover against the awarding of damages should an employment related tribunal or court ruling go against you. Provide a safe work environment. This may involve providing appropriate training (eg. in correct lifting procedures), instruction and supervision. Excellent advice and assistance on the training of PAs and carers is offered by the Disabled Living Foundation. Where can I get advice and help? Download our free Home Care Safety handbook, an essential guide for personal assistants and carers on how to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. This will, in the vast majority of cases, cover the risk assessment you are required by the Health and Safety Executive to complete. Our Independent Living Employment Insurance policy also provides up to £5m employers’ liability insurance for injury to your employee, even if you breach the Health & Safety Act. Recruiting and managing staff. You must recruit in a non-discriminatory way in accordance with the relevant legislation (eg. applying to age, race and sex) and National Minimum Wage Act. Your management responsibilities include provision of appropriate training, provision of a safe working environment, settlement of PAYE and National Insurance obligations. You must also account for your expenditure. Where can I get advice and help? A local authority support worker, or support organisation contracted by your local authority, may provide employment advice and assistance and may sit in on any job interviews you host. Our Independent Living Employment Protection policy also includes 24 hour access to a specialist employment law advice line.

  • Q10.

    What are an employees’ responsibilities to me?

    A.

    A key responsibility is to fulfil their employment duties without negligence, omission or error. For example, through their negligence, an employee may incur losses to you for theft of or damage to a motor vehicle, mobility scooter, household contents, personal possessions or home. We would recommend that you seek adequate insurance to protect against these risks.

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