Renfrewshire Council

Direct Payments for adult community care

What direct payments are, who can get them, exclusions, legislation and the council's duties, key principles.

What direct payments are

A Direct Payment for Care is money paid by the local authority to a person whom it has assessed as needing a community care service. 

The local authority makes the payment instead of arranging services. Recipients of direct payments can use this money to employ their own workers or purchase services from an agency. 

Renfrewshire Council will consider requests for direct payments in lieu of equipment and/or adaptations on a case for case basis. 

The key benefit is that direct payments increase the amount of choice, control and flexibility that people have over their lives.

Who can get direct payments

The following groups of people are eligible to receive direct payments:

  • Disabled adults to purchase community care services.
  • Disabled people aged 16 and 17 to purchase children's services.
  • Disabled people with parental responsibility to purchase the children's services that their children have been assessed as needing.
  • Parents and people with parental responsibility for a disabled child to purchase the services that child has been assessed as needing.
  • Disabled adults, older people and 16 and 17 years old to purchase housing support services.
  • Attorneys and guardians, with the relevant powers, can receive direct payments on behalf of the disabled person who is unable to give consent to arranging their own services.
  • People aged 65 and over who are assessed as needing community care services due to infirmity and old age (from 1 April 2005).


Some people are excluded from receiving a direct payment by legislation. This includes people who are subject to compulsory measures of care under mental health and criminal justice legislation. It also cannot be used to purchase long-term residential or nursing home care. 

Payments cannot be made to carers who are assessed as requiring community services although this is currently under review.

Legislation and the Council's duties

The Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996 gave local authorities the power to make direct payments to disabled people with community care needs. These included people with physical or sensory impairments, HIV, mental health problems, learning disability and people affected by illness. 

In 2000, availability was extended to people over 65 years of age. From 2001, 16 and 17 year olds, disabled parents who required assistance with parental duties and parents of disabled children were also included.

Section 7 of the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002 introduced a range of provisions relating to direct payments that replaced section 12B of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. This allowed direct payments to be more widely available to people who use community care and children's services.

As from June 2003 local authorities now have a duty to provide direct payments for those people who fit the conditions. From April 2005, direct payments were extended to include older people.

Key principles

It is important to bear in mind that direct payments is just another option available to meet an individual's assessed need. It must be offered to people in the same way as we currently offer services such as home help.

In order to empower people and promote independence, people who may be eligible for direct payments require accessible information about all services to them. This will allow them to make an informed choice about the type of care service they require.

Parents and guardians can consent to a direct payment for children under the age of sixteen. They must be informed however, that when the young person reached the age of sixteen, they can consent to a direct payment in their own right.

Renfrewshire Council has an in-house support service at present. An expression of interest in direct payments should trigger a referral to the Self Directed Support Service.

The care manager is responsible for assessing the support needs of the individual and their ability to manage the direct payment but they should not be assisting or directing the client in its use. The care manager has an ongoing role to assess and review the service user's support needs.