Paying for adult social care

If you have less than £23,250 in savings, you may get some or all of your adult social care costs covered. A financial assessment will determine any financial support you are eligible for.

Direct payments for adults

If you've had a care and support assessment and a financial assessment,you may be allocated a personal budget to pay for, or towards, your care and support. 

You will be offered a Direct Payment which gives you flexibility and control over the services you receive. A Direct Payment is not a benefit, it is an agreed amount of money that is paid directly to you, so that you can purchase the care and support that you need as identified in your support plan.

A Direct Payment allows you to arrange your care support in a way that best suits your needs and lifestyle.  More and more people are choosing to take a Direct Payment because it helps them to remain/become independent by giving them more choice and control over their care.

If a Direct Payment is not right for you, we will use your personal budget to provide you with care and support services.

How can the Direct Payment be paid?

Our preferred method is a Virtual Wallet.  The other option is for you to open a bank account and self-manage your Direct Payment through that.

Important Information

Croydon Council has a duty to protect the public funds it administers, to do this we:

  • will use any information and records which we request and you provide 
  • review what your direct payment is being spent on to ensure it is meeting your care and support needs as outlined in your care and support assessment
  • request repayment of part or all of the money or take legal action including prosecution where the money is not spent in accordance with your support plan
  • may use the information you have provided for the prevention and detection of fraud
  • may share this information with law enforcement agencies and other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes

Virtual Wallet

The aim of Virtual Wallet is to allow people to have all of the benefits of a Direct Payment with none of the administrative burden.  Your Direct Payment is ‘credited’ to an online account, which is just for you (or your representative) to manage your care & support and your Direct Payment.  It gives choice and control, is easy-to-use, it’s secure and gives complete transparency for all parties.

Virtual Wallet is delivered in partnership with a company called Public Partnerships.  There is a dedicated Virtual Wallet website for Croydon Council.  Amongst other useful information you will also find:

  • The Virtual Wallet Quick Reference guide
  • Virtual Wallet tutorial   - short tutorial explaining how Virtual Wallet works
  • Quick Reference Guide - a two-sided A4 flyer that acts as a desk-aid for people that are using Virtual Wallet
  • Budget Calculator – a ready-reckoner tool that enables the user to enter their funding and the rate they want to pay a PA to see what the impact of national insurance, pensions and holiday pay is
  • User Videos - short videos that provide a demonstration of the main elements of Virtual Wallet from an individual’s perspective

The Virtual Wallet support team will be on hand to support you with the Virtual Wallet, contact details are on their website. 


Direct payments can be made to anyone that is entitled to community care services, including:

  • disabled people aged 16 or over
  • older people
  • people with learning disabilities
  • users of mental health services
  • carers aged 16 or over who are eligible for carers' services
  • disabled parents
  • people with parental responsibility for disabled children under 16

What direct payments can be used for

Charges for services made with direct payments are made on the same basis as those arranged by social services. Direct payments can be used to buy services such as:

  • personal care, such as help getting up, washing and dressing
  • practical tasks, such as preparing meals, shopping and housework
  • help getting out and about, going to work, visiting a friend or relative, going to leisure activities
  • if you are a disabled parent, help to look after your child
  • if you are a carer, help to look after the person you care for or to give you a break from caring
  • occupational therapy equipment

What direct payments cannot be used for

You cannot use direct payments for:

  • unlawful activity
  • gambling
  • subsistence – such as food and drink
  • accommodation costs
  • permanent residential care – but if indicated in your care plan they can be used for non-residential additional day activities
  • services provided by a close family member who lives with you, including your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, or a close relative (for example parent, parent-in-law, aunt uncle, grandparent, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, step son or daughter, brother or sister)
  • respite exceeding 4 consecutive weeks in any 12 month period
  • services provided directly by the council or NHS

Your responsibilities

If you decide to receive direct payments, you'll be responsible for arranging the services outlined in your support plan. If you choose to employ someone directly to assist you, you'll have specific responsibilities as an employer, but you'll be offered advice and support to help you fulfil these legal obligations.

If you use a care agency to provide all the services you require, you'll be offered advice about choosing a suitable agency. You will not have to employ your own staff.

If you take up direct payments, you, or someone acting on your behalf, must:

  • be willing and able to direct your care or support services
  • keep simple records to show how the money is spent

Help managing direct payments

We can help you manage your direct payments – both in securing the services and the support you want the direct payments to provide. You can discuss your ideas for how you want to spend your direct payments with your social worker or direct payments advisor.

Help from family carers and friends

People can use their friends, families or carers to help them manage their direct payments. We can also help you organise this. If your direct payment is managed by a friend or relative, they can not be your paid carer or receive payment from the direct payment account.

Direct payments user group

The direct payments user group is a useful resource for advice and information for all current and prospective users of the direct payments scheme. Group members can provide mutual support and advice from a user's point of view. If you become a direct payments user we will send you details of how to join this group.

Independent Lives

A user-led organisation who have been working with Croydon since 2019 to find and recruit PAs and provide information and advice on the legal obligations of being an employer.  Independent Lives work directly with people with disabilities and older people.

When you have a Direct Payment they can provide a support service that can help you arrange and manage your own personalised care and support by becoming an employer and recruiting your own Personal Care Assistants.

Contact Independent Lives
•    Call: 01903 219482
•    Website:

Direct payments support service

Our direct payments support service provides support, advice and guidance. 

Direct payments support service

Adult services health and housing

United Kingdom