Direct Payments Policy Consultation - Public survey

Closed 6 Nov 2022

Opened 3 Oct 2022

Feedback updated 15 Dec 2022

We asked

Participants were asked to consider the following eight proposed changes to the Adult Social Care Direct Payments Policy:

  1. Unspent funds - we will be more flexible when we look at any unspent funds in Direct Payment accounts. We will no longer automatically claim back unspent funds which are in excess of eight weeks. Instead, we will ask DP clients what their plans are for any unspent funds. For example, they may be planning to spend it later in the year on something that has been agreed will meet the outcomes in their support plan. If this is the case, they will be able to keep the money in their account until they need it.
  2. Support from family members - if we think it is necessary, DP clients will be able to ask a family member to manage their Direct Payment and for another family member to be paid to provide their support.  We have also deleted the section that said that a family member living in the same house as a DP client should only be paid to provide their support in exceptional circumstances.
  3. Using personal bank accounts – under the new policy it will be possible to have a Direct Payment paid into a personal bank account. Though we will continue to recommend that people set up a separate bank account as this will make it easier for them to administer DP monies and avoid them having to share generic details of other non-DP related financial transactions.
  4. Holiday costs - sometimes Direct Payments are used for respite, this means that DP clients might spend some time away from their carer, or the people they live with. They might choose a traditional form of respite, where support is offered on site. Or they may decide to go on holiday with their Personal Assistant or another family member or friend who doesn’t normally care for them. The new policy says that, with our agreement, they can, in liaison with their social worker, use their Direct Payment to pay towards travel and accommodation costs if they decide to go on holiday for respite where this has been identified as an outcome of their Care Act assessment. 
  5. Travel expenses - Direct Payments will not normally be used for daily travel expenses, but we may agree to fund reasonable travel expenses if we feel that DP clients need this because of their individual circumstances. 
  6. Paying for Council services and using DPs outside the UK – we have removed the statements that said that DP clients could not use their Direct Payment to pay for services from the council or to pay for things outside of the United Kingdom.
  7. Paying for leisure activities - we will support DP clients to explore leisure activities that they are interested in and enjoy where these will meet the outcomes included in their support plan. We will not rule out anything unless the items and activities they are suggesting do not meet the outcomes in their support plan. Principles of Best Value will also apply.
  8. Periods away from home – DP clients will no longer need to let us know of plans to spend time away from home.

You said

A total of 340 representations were received, with 259 responses from client/carers, 37 from members of staff and 44 from members of the public. A further 61 people were engaged through focus group discussions.

With overall agreement of fifteen percent for proposal three ‘Using a personal bank account’, this was the least agreeable of the eight proposals and was particularly unpopular with staff taking part in the consultation. Proposal six ‘Paying for Council services and using DPs outside the UK’ proved to be unpopular across all groups consulted, with just one in five staff agreeing with the proposal.

For clients and carers, proposal two ‘Support from family members’ proved to be the most agreeable with proposal one ‘Unspent funds’ and proposal four ‘Holiday costs’ a close second.

Strong themes have appeared throughout the consultation.

Responses about what people like about the proposals can be broadly set out into 3 categories:

  1. Flexibility and control

Across all proposals, a key theme was that the policy would give greater control and flexibility to the client. It will also give greater flexibility to staff members who will be able to be more creative and have more responsibility when writing support plans. It was noted that this needs to be communicated to practitioners so that support plans can be altered to reflect the flexibility.

  1. Mental health and wellbeing

Respondents largely felt that the proposed changes would improve their own, or the person they care for’s mental health and wellbeing. This was particularly prevalent on proposals relating to unspent funds and leisure activities.

  1. Cost of living

A key theme across the proposals was that the changes will help ease financial pressures felt by clients and carers. For example, travelling to appointments and other activities set out in the care plan, paying family members, and using Direct Payments to pay for leisure activities.

Responses about how the proposals could be improved can be broadly set out into 3 categories:

  1. Language around leisure

Respondents felt that the language under proposal seven: using your Direct Payment to pay for leisure activities could be rephrased. For example, the terms wellbeing or wellness should be used instead. Also, it was found that the language under proposal 6: paying for council services and spending your Direct Payment outside of the UK needs to be clearer.

  1. Clarity

A key theme across all proposals was that clarity and training is needed within the policy so that Practitioners can effectively and confidently write support plans and that clients and carers can confidently use their Direct Payment to fulfil their needs. Clarification is needed on proposal three that using the same bank is a choice, not a requirement and how this will be audited. Also, clear guidance on how Direct Payments can be used for holiday and/or respite, and travel. There also needs to be guidance on what leisure activities are acceptable and how this will be managed by practitioners. Furthermore, clarity is needed on whether there are any rules on people spending prolonged periods of time away from home. There also needs to be assurance that the policies will be linked to individual outcomes.

  1. Scope for misuse

Another key theme across the proposals was a concern for the possibility of proposals being open for misuse. This was particularly prevalent through the proposals relating to unspent funds and paying family members. Respondents felt that there needs to be a defined process to reduce the risk of misinterpretation as funds are derived from the public purse.

We did

Summary of the feedback we received and the action we plan to take in response to it:


Action proposed in response to feedback

Repayment of monies reclaimed under old policy

The Council has already contacted just over one hundred clients and carers where any reductions in care were made under the old policy.  It has now reviewed the care needs for these clients and where necessary, reinstated support plans.  If you were negatively affected by the previous policy and we have not yet been in touch with you, then please call us on 0161 218 1450 or email us at and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Maintain consistent approach/interpretation of policy, and

practitioners to be informed about how support plans can be altered to allow flexibility

We have developed a staff training and communication plan.  This consists of a series of briefings for managers in Adult Social Care, followed by a training programme for all staff who work on direct payments in Adult Social Care.  We will also be providing updated written guidance and an e-learning training package for staff.    This training programme will also have a focus on how social workers can develop flexibility in support plans. 

Ensure that policy is not abused – e.g., Paying families and paying for leisure activities

We will monitor use of Direct Payment funds through our review and audit processes.  This involves an initial check by the Brokerage Service and the allocated social worker within the first six weeks of a payment. This is to assure the council that the service user understands their responsibilities and is coping well with the expected administration of the account. A formal audit will be undertaken at four months – this allows time for a pattern of spend to be established and for the first bank statement to arrive. If there are no issues with the first audit, they will be carried out every six months. 

Rephrase communication asking for repayments to avoid stress to families

We have already started to review all our correspondence to Direct Payment clients to ensure that it is written in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary stress.  We will share our revised documentation with the Stockport Advocacy Group to seek their feedback on our changes.

Clarification needed that using the same bank account is a choice, not a requirement, and

clarification on how using same bank account for DP will be managed in terms of audit

We recognise that further guidance is needed for people using personal bank accounts to manage Direct Payments.   We are in the process of developing this guidance, which will also include details of the processes we will use for auditing spend.

Guidance on how Direct Payments can be used for holidays and/or respite

We are currently working on improving the guidance and developing some examples to be included in our new policy.

Guidance on what kind of travel Direct Payments can be used for i.e., to what places, what form of transport and fair travel costs

We will be improving our guidance and providing examples in the new policy. 

Paying for council services and spending your Direct Payment outside of the UK language needs to be clearer, and

guidance on using Direct Payments outside of UK will be managed by practitioners

Examples will be included in the new policy and guidance will be provided for practitioners.

Term ‘leisure’ re worded under proposal 7, and

guidance on what leisure activities are acceptable and how this will be managed by practitioners

We have removed the word ‘leisure’ from the Direct Payment Policy because we felt it was misleading, instead we will refer to wellbeing activities to meet a person’s assessed outcomes under the Care Act.  We feel this provides clearer guidance for clients and carers.   We will not be providing a list of which activities are acceptable as we feel that this is dependent on assessed care act needs and finding the best activity to help an individual meet those needs.  However, we will still provide a list of activities that are not acceptable in the policy, such as those that involve gambling or alcohol.

Guidance on whether there are any rules on people spending prolonged time away from home

We will not be introducing any rules regarding prolonged periods away from home.



Thank you for agreeing to take part in this public consultation around proposed changes to the Stockport Council Direct Payments Policy. This survey is aimed at members of the public who do not have a Direct Payment or care for somebody who does so. 

This questionnaire asks for your views on the changes we want to make to the Direct Payment policy. A full copy of the draft policy can be found in the supporting documents below.

What is the Direct Payments Policy? 

Direct Payments are an option for adults aged 18+ who need care and support to help them to live independently.  Direct Payments are cash payments made to adults who prefer this method of paying for care and support to meet their needs. It enables the person to take ownership of their own care planning by choosing how and when they receive support instead of the Council arranging services on their behalf.  

To receive a Direct Payment, you must meet the eligibility threshold for adults with care and support needs as set out in the Care and Support (Eligibility Criteria) Regulations 2014. The threshold is based on identifying how a person’s needs affect their ability to achieve relevant outcomes, and how these impacts on their wellbeing.  

 The Direct Payments Policy is a document that provides guidance and rules that everyone who is involved in issuing, using, or managing direct payments provided through Stockport Council needs to follow.  This policy is mainly used by employees working in Adult Social Care and all current and future Direct Payment clients and their carers living in Stockport. 

Why we decided to update the policy?

In September 2021 we launched a new Direct Payments Policy, which included a new approach for reviewing and assessing how people could spend their direct payments.  Following the launch, some concerns were raised and after reviewing the work that was undertaken, we have recognised that some decisions we made were not right.  As a result, we have stopped using the policy and have reinstated support payments for anyone that was negatively affected as part of the changes we made.   

 We have also reviewed our Direct Payments Policy and identified some areas that needed to change to provide more clarity about how payments can and cannot be spent.  We are seeking your views on these changes and on how we can improve the policy to make it clearer and more accessible in the future.    

Who is doing this consultation? 

This consultation is being held by the Stockport Council Consultation and engagement team.  

Will you share the things I tell you? 

No, everything you tell us is confidential. The only time this will change is you tell us you or the person you care for is at risk. We have a duty to report this to our safeguarding colleagues. Only those involved in the project will be able to see your answers. No individual will be identified in any reports that are produced.  

What if I need these questions in another format?

If you have any questions about this consultation or require the questionnaire in another format such as Easy read, large print or in another language. Please call or email using the details below.

What if I have any questions?

If you have any questions about this consultation .Please email using the details below.

Why your views matter

We would like your views on our proposed changes. Before each question we tell you:

  • The section of the policy the questions in the questionnaire relate to
  • An explanation of what the old policy said
  • A summary of what the new policy will say
  • The reasons why we want to make the changes

Please take a few moments to read each of our proposed changes before making your response. There is room for you to leave comments on our proposed changes. We cannot respond to any individual requests received via this questionnaire. Thank you 

Your comments and ideas will directly impact on the finalised Direct Payments Policy. We probably won’t be able to do everything you suggest – but everything we do will be influenced by what you tell us.

If you have recieved an invitation as someone currently in reciept of a Direct Payment , please leave this survey and complete our Direct Payments Consultation Clients and Carers Survey. Thank you

What happens next

Key Dates

Sunday 11 November 2022

Consultation closes.

24th November 2022

The following Papers to Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee for review

  • Consultation Findings
  • Equality Impact Assessment 
  • New Direct Payments Policy

6th December 2022

 Approval sought for the new policy from the Stockport Council Cabinet Committee

7th December 2022.

Subject to approval, the new policy will be implemented from this date






  • Stockport Council Activities