Introduction to the Direct Payment support service

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    If social services or the NHS have assessed you as eligible to receive a Direct Payment, or if you are a self-funder with eligible needs, you may choose to employ a personal assistant (PA) to help or support you to meet your assessed outcomes.


    This factsheet introduces what you will be required to do to employ a PA using your Direct Payment. Independent Lives will take you through these processes and provide you with the knowledge and paperwork to become a good employer.

    Finding a PA

    Before you recruit a personal assistant, you need to know what you can afford to pay someone from your Direct Payment. We work with you on calculating a budget to cover PA wages and on costs, like holiday pay.

    You must pay someone at least the national minimum wage per hour. Cash in hand is not permitted unless agreed by your local authority or NHS funder.

    You will then need to think about what you want them to do – this will become a job description.

    Avoid confusion by not offering a job verbally to anyone before you’ve received advice on becoming a Direct Payment employer. We will support you to recruit, if you haven’t already and do the necessary checks on a PA, including DBS checks and references.

    Ongoing responsibilities

    • Take out insurance – As an employer, it’s a legal requirement that you have Employers’ Liability insurance. The cost of this policy will be covered by your Direct Payments
    • Check your PA has the right to work in the UK
    • Employment Contracts – You have a legal responsibility to issue your PA a contract of employment on or before the day they start work
    • Complete a risk assessment with all PAs, where applicable. Develop your own ‘emergency plan’ to make sure that you have several options if your regular PAs are unavailable
    • Set up a workplace pension, if required
    • Ensure your PAs salary includes deductions, like tax and National Insurance. Speak to your payroll provider about any other payments or deductions that may be required
    • Pay all employed PAs 5.6 weeks annual leave (Pro Rata)
    • Maintain records of where your Direct Payment is being spent. Including keeping PA timesheets
    • Ensure all checks are carried out for self-employed PAs
    • Provide any training to your PAs that is required for them to do their job
    • You do not end any employment relationship without speaking to your Employers Liability Insurance or Independent Lives
    • Speak to Independent Lives if you require advice on anything you’re not sure about

    Self Employment

    If you decide to engage the services of a self-employed PA, then you will need to make sure the PA:

    • Has registered with HMRC as a self-employed carer and has been issued with a UTR number
    • Has taken out their own liability insurance
    • Has a DBS check
    • Can provide invoices for the work they do for you
    • Is self-employed for tax purposes by completing an online HMRC Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST)
    • Can provide a contract of their services
    • Has contacted Care Quality Commission (CQC) to see whether they need to be registered with them

    Independent Lives will support you with this process so that the set up with your PA is legal.

    Last updated:  24th April, 2024


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