Last updated: 22 June 2023

COVID-19 important information: are you worried about paying for the service?

If you're concerned about whether you can still have the service, or your service is being disrupted, here's what to do:

  • Step 1 - Talk to your service provider to agree a plan, if either you, or they, are sick
  • Step 2 – If your service closes or doesn't turn up and there's no back-up plan, contact your provider. If you can't get hold of them, please contact the Direct Payments Support Service at Citizens Advice Waltham Forest on 0203 233 0279
  • Step 3 – If you're still unable to work out an alternative and you need a different option urgently please contact us on at 020 8496 3000

Where possible, work with your provider to come up with a solution. If you need further help, our Direct Payment Support Service can assist. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for people who employ their own PAs

We also recognise that those who directly employ a personal assistant (PA) may need access to personal protective equipment (PPE) if you or they don’t already have this.

Please contact the Direct Payments Support Service at Citizens Advice Waltham Forest on 0203 233 0279 if you require support with PPE.

What is a personal budget?

A personal budget or direct payment will be created after assessment by social services. If we decide that you need any kind of support, you'll receive a personal budget. You can then choose a direct payment instead of letting them arrange services for you.

If you aren't able to, or don't want to manage your own finances, someone else can manage the direct payments on your behalf.

How is a personal budget used?

A personal budget is the total amount of money you’ll need to meet the costs of your care. This includes the amount we’ll pay and any money you pay yourself towards it.

Everyone whose eligible needs are met by the council receives a personal budget as part of their care and support plan. The final amount of personal budget is confirmed through the support planning process.

In general, we charge for social care services. Some people have to pay the full amount towards their services; some make a contribution and some don’t pay anything.  It’ll depend on your individual financial circumstances. This will calculated after we've done a financial assessment.

There are three main ways a personal budget can be used:

  • as a Direct Payment, for convenience we can make this available to you via a pre-payment card, although there are other payment options too
  • as a managed account we hold, with support provided in line with your wishes
  • as a managed account held by a third party with support provided in line with your wishes

How it's calculated

The Resource Allocation System (RAS) generates an amount which is based upon the assessment and the estimated cost of meeting your needs.

The assessment identifies your care and support needs and your eligible needs. The RAS translates your eligible assessed needs into points or units.

The scale of points or units awarded depends on the eligibility criteria and is converted into an indicative or estimated budget. It also takes into account the total available council resources to meet care and support needs.

The RAS cannot calculate an accurate indicative budget for complex cases that involve high levels of need. In these cases, it will calculate an indicative or estimated budget up to a maximum threshold that reflects the type and complexity of need.

Cases that reach or exceed this threshold will be treated as an exception. These will require more careful consideration, to ensure that your needs are met appropriately.

Spending your money

Your personal budget must be spent on what's agreed in your care and support plan, to meet your eligible social care needs and outcomes.

You'll use your personal budget to meet some of your outcomes. You should also start thinking about your local networks and whether other services are free and available nearby.

It's very important that you have a plan for if something doesn’t turn out the way you want it. It’s helpful to save some of your budget to cover emergencies, like arranging care at short notice.

Direct Payments

You may want to have your funding allocated to you as Direct Payments (in other words, as a cash personal budget). You can either manage this yourself or ask a family member or someone else to manage it for you. If you have someone else acting on your behalf we’ll need to agree to this. 

Direct Payments can offer you a lot of flexibility in how you can use your personal budget. You can choose who you want to care for you and when. You can even employ support workers, or start a contract with an agency.  

If you’re thinking about taking a Direct Payment we can help you to understand how it works and some of the things you should think about. This will include what you need to do if you want to employ people to help you.

Don’t worry, it won’t affect your current income from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) or other allowances if you receive any.

See further information and how to apply for the direct payment scheme (PDF). You can also see our Direct Payments page.

Managed payments

Not everyone will have the desire or capacity to manage a personal budget or to plan for and meet their own support needs. If you don’t want to have a Direct Payment you can ask your representative to arrange the services on your behalf.

We’ll provide support for individuals who choose to take all or part of their personal budget as a managed service. In such cases, we'll allocate a personal budget on the basis of an agreed support plan. Resources and services will be purchased in line with this. You can choose a combination of Direct Payments and managed services if you wish.

We'll set out the exact arrangements in the care or support plan. Any associated personal budget agreement will be subject to review as requested or required.


A representative is a person appointed to manage a personal budget if an individual lacks capacity. A representative may be:

  • someone who holds an enduring or lasting power of attorney
  • a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection; or
  • a family member or close friend who agrees to take on the responsibility to act in a person's best interests. This can include someone with parental responsibility for a person aged 16 or over.

Citizens Advice Waltham Forest for Direct Payment Support

The Direct Payments Support Service offers free advice and help for those who use Direct Payments for their care and support. It is run on our behalf by Citizens Advice. 

Find out more at Citizens Advice Waltham Forest for Direct Payment.