London Borough of Croydon

Direct payments - what are they?

Direct payments provide parents with the opportunity to arrange care and services for their child instead of receiving a direct service from the local authority. Following an assessment, direct payments can be used in a variety of ways to promote flexibility and choice for families.

Contact: Children with disabilities team, telephone 020 8726 6400 or Adult Social Care (for those aged 18 and over) go to making a referral to Adult Social Services web page.

Direct payments can be made to anyone that is entitled to support services. They are payments made directly to:

  • Disabled people aged 16+
  • Disabled parents whose children require services
  • People with parental responsibility for disabled children
  • Carers aged 16+ who are eligible for carers' services.

What can direct payments be used for?
Following an assessment, direct payments can be used in a variety of ways to promote flexibility and choice for families. This may include:

  • Short breaks
  • Personal assistance to enable your child to attend an activity, club or sporting activity
  • Personal care
  • Specialist equipment.

Once an assessment has been completed and the number of hours of support allocated, an amount is agreed to fund this support. Parents can then use direct payments to employ their own personal assistant or directly purchase support. People taking up direct payments must be willing and able to be responsible for care and support services. They must also keep simple records to show how the money is spent. If a personal assistant is employed then this brings a number of responsibilities for the employer.

For more information please see the Direct Payment Guide below giving you information about how direct payments can be a route to your independence giving you the choice, control and flexibility to meet your own care needs.

Personal budget - what is this?

A personal budget is an amount of money per year that may be allocated to your family to meet your child's support needs. A personal budget gives you and your child more flexibility, choice and control over the support you use and enables you to make your own decisions as a family about what works best for you. Your child will only get a personal budget if they have been assessed as being eligible for specific education, health and social care support identified in an Education Health and Care Plan.

Eligibility and personal budgets policy - how are decisions made?
Parents or a young person aged 16 and over (with mental capacity) can request a personal budget when an Education, Health and Care Plan is being developed. They will be given details of the services which are available for a personal budget. Schools and other agencies (such as health) will be informed that a personal budget has been requested.

  • If a personal budget is confirmed the parents or young person will be given details of how much will be made available and how the personal budget will be set up. The Education Health and Care Plan will include the details and cost of all services that will be made available via personal budget.
  • If a personal budget is not confirmed, parents or the young person will receive a letter explaining the reasons.

What you can spend your personal budget on
Following an assessment, a personal budget can be used in a variety of ways to promote flexibility and choice for families. In Croydon there is currently a limited range of services suitable for personal budgets:

  • Short breaks - for eligibility go to short breaks wHome based short break careeb page
  • Personal assistance to enable your child to attend an activity, club or sporting activity
  • Personal care  
  • Specialist equipment 
  • Home to school travel assistance for eligibility see the SEN Travel Assistance Policy 2014 below 
  • Families receiving Personal Health Budgets may also use the funds to pay for therapies, products and services to meet the health and wellbeing needs of their child. This is based on eligibility for Continuing Health Care. The NHS has produced a Decision Support Tool which helps to define who may be eligible.

Croydon is working with partner agencies to agree a common approach to personal budgets. As opportunities arise joint commissioning will be used to make a wider range of services available for personal budgets.

What you cannot spend your personal budget on
It sounds obvious, but you can't spend money from a personal budget on anything that would put your child at risk of harm or on anything that does not meet an identified outcome for your child in their Education, Health and Care Plan. You cannot use a personal budget to buy other services from your local authority. 

Will my benefits be affected?
No. Direct payments and personal budgets do not impact on benefits you receive. They are in place of direct services from Croydon Council or health services.

Is it for me?
With direct payments and personal budgets you are in control. You can decide how your child's needs can be met and make arrangements yourself. You can arrange support in a way that is convenient for your family. This may not suit everyone as some may not want the responsibility of keeping track of how much is spent or arranging their own support.

What support will there be to help me manage and control direct payments / personal budget? 

KIDS - SENDIASS: Independent Support Service 

The service provides: 

  • impartial and confidential advice and information for your child’s special education needs or disabilities around education, health and social care
  • support with understanding reports and letters, attending meetings and preparing for assessments and reviews
  • information and signposting to support services in your area
  • support with preparing for adulthood
  • impartial independent mediation and disagreement service, resolution service.

How can you get in touch with an independent supporter?


Carers Support Centre,
24 George Street,
020 8663 5630/5631
Opening Times:
Monday to Friday 10am -5pm
SEND Drop In sessions
Every Friday 10am - 12pm

Croydon Council

Direct Payment Support Service will also help to support personal budgets.
Contact:  Direct Payment Support Service, Bernard Weatherill House, 8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA
Telephone: 020 8726 6000 ext 61925
Minicom 020 8760 5797

Disability Rights UK

Provides useful publications and can advise on personal budgets and direct payments. 
Independent living advice line 0300 555 1525 Monday and Thursday 9am - 1pm

Employing a Personal Assistant

Employing a Personal Assistant (PA) directly rather than hiring a care worker through an agency involves becoming an employer and having to deal with issues such as payroll and insurance. You can get help with recruiting and managing a personal assistant from Croydon Council and other organisations:

Additional Support

In Control

UK children’s palliative care charity, Together for Short Lives, has launched a new guide Young Person’s Guide to Personal Budgets in England, designed to help seriously ill young people to have more choice and freedom in how their care is delivered.

The new e-resource is written for young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition and may be considering a personal budget. The easy to use guide aims to help young people decide if a personal budget is right for them. Using simple and clear language the guide explains what a personal budget is, the different ways they may be funded and managed and how they can be used. Leah, Heidi and Chris - three young people who understand the complexity of having a personal budget - help you navigate the guide – sharing their personal experience of taking control of their lives and making the most of personal budgets.

The guide was written for Together for Short Lives by In Control, a charity which works to build a society that includes everyone equally.

Department For Education

Making it Personal has created new resources and information document which can be downloaded, including: A Family Guide to Personalisation, Personal Budgets and Education, Health and Care Plans.


Help downloading files