Care and support - Direct payments used to purchase Personal Assistants
Councils making sure Individual employers (IEs) meet their legal obligations as employers.
The Care Act requires councils to make sure that people who use their direct payments (DPs) to employ Personal Assistants (PAs) meet their legal responsibilities and act as good employers. Councils face a challenge to provide timely access to the right information, advice and support for this to happen.
What are the outcomes we want to achieve?
- Where people in receipt of direct payments are employing a personal assistant they are supported to be good employers and are able to meet all of their legal duties - in financial and legal terms
- People have greater capacity to manage their own care, enhanced circles of support and greater involvement in the local community, without blurring lines of accountability
- Personal Assistants who are employed by people in receipt of direct payments are paid a living wage at or above the legal minimum wage levels
- People in receipt of direct payments and their Personal Assistants have ongoing access to training and workforce development resources
- The market for personal assistance is healthy, and Personal Assistants are a visible and highly valued part of the social and health care workforce
What tools and resources do we need to do a good job? What are the steps we have to go through?
- Clear advice for direct payment recipients on becoming an employer
- Specialist support and advice to enable direct payment users to meet all of the responsibilities associated with employing people including tax, national insurance obligations, health & safety and pension obligations
- Information on how to access disclosure and barring service checks (previously CRB checks) where possible.
- Signposting to other sources of advice and resources including skills for care workforce development fund and local direct payment support services
What are the products we will have at the end of this process?
- Signed direct payment agreement with actual holder
- Specialist support and advice to recruit and retain staff
- Information on PA training
- Agreed monitoring arrangements detailing what minimum information will be collected in order to satisfy the council that people are meeting their legal obligations and how that might change if people do not fulfil their obligations as an employer
When does this process start and end and within what timescales should this process be completed?
- Information sharing begins at first point of contact
- Direct payment should be agreed when the council is satisfied that people have what they need in place to meet their legal duties as an employer
- Light touch monitoring arrangements should be initially be at the six-eight week stage in accordance with direct payment regulations, then annually but with an option to escalate the frequency and level of detail required (by exception I.e. only where people are struggling to meet their obligations)
Who needs to be involved and what is their role? Who is taking the lead?
- Person receiving the direct payment
- Family or carer
- Independent applicable chosen representative
- GP support service
- Care coordinator
- Financial assessments team
The Care Act describes conditions that an individual must meet in order to receive a DP. One condition is that the person is able to manage the DP appropriately - this includes the requirement to manage the legal duties in terms of being an employer. However, the council has a clear role to play in providing information or signposting people to advice about their responsibilities at an early stage.
Providing the funds and allowing the person to pay their relative/someone else a self-employed fee to do the administration and monitoring.
Providing support to direct payment holders who want to become individual employers about their employment obligations is necessary for Care Act compliance. Early conversations and good quality support services are essential if Councils want to get this right for people.
- Case study: Lancashire Council - Direct payments used to purchase Personal Assistants (pdf - 284Kb) (opens new window)