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When you receive Direct Payments and pay other people for your care, in effect, you become an employer.
Therefore, Direct Payments can place a considerable administrative burden on you. You will now have obligations in relation to employment contracts, record keeping and accounts maintenance. In fact, the Trust will need to audit all of these so the responsibility will be on you to make sure that they are up-to-date.
So, if you employ your own carer using Direct Payments, you will need to deal with such things as tax and national insurance, as well as insurance in case a carer has an accident while looking after you.
Nevertheless, this should not put you off receiving Direct Payments as support is available to help with these matters.
Support with Administration
Trusts are advised to provide appropriate support services to assist with these administrative matters. There are also a number of useful publications to advise on matters such as drawing up a job description, advertising, interview questions, pay, contracts, terms and conditions of employment, insurance and legal responsibilities.
Furthermore, you can designate another person, a family member, for example, to manage the Direct Payment on your behalf.
If you would prefer not to deal with issues such as tax and national insurance, you can employ a carer through an agency who will deal with these issues on your behalf, or employ a carer who is self-employed.
If you employ a self-employed person, it is important to ensure that they are genuinely self-employed as this can impact on tax and national insurance. Also, before entering a contract with an agency or self-employed carer, it is important that issues such as price, tasks, insurance, qualifications, training, and cancellations are covered. Alternatively, you can avoid Direct Payments and have your care arranged by the trust.
If you wish to use an independent agency to provide your care service, you may find information about these in the telephone directory or from your local Trust.
You may want to use a registered provider. Trusts may be able to inform you of providers who are registered.
It may seem daunting but remember that the Direct Payments Scheme aims to give you greater control and independence.
Support services can provide services such as information, advice, training, practical assistance, newsletters and meetings.
You can share experiences and receive help with the administration of Direct Payments.
The guidance states that Trusts will wish, wherever possible, to offer you the option to be put in touch with a support group, Centre for Independent Living or peer support group of people who already manage Direct Payments.
The Centre for Independent Living provides a range of services for people using and considering Direct Payments. The centre works to promote the principles of independent living.
Trusts might decide that they can provide a support service directly in partnership of the local voluntary organisation or by some other means.
Support provided through voluntary organisations has been shown to be particularly effective and valued by recipients. The experience of existing recipients of direct payments is that they find it easier to seek advice from someone who is independent of the Trust.
For information about Direct Payments, download A Guide to Receiving Direct Payments (PDF 313 KB) from the NI Direct website.