Adult Social Care Budget Services

Personal Budget

Personal Budgets are an allocation of funding given to users after an assessment which should be sufficient to meet their assessed needs. Users can either take their personal budget as a direct payment, or – while still choosing how their care needs are met and by whom – leave councils with the responsibility to commission the services. Or they can take have some combination of the two./p>

Personal Budgets can be used for things such as:

  • getting the support you need at home (eg help with personal care)
  • getting involved in community activities
  • keeping healthy and safe (eg equipment that will help you stay independent)

Personal Budgets can not be used for things such as:

  • Anything that is not directly related to meeting your eligible social care needs
  • for things which the local council has prohibited. These vary, but generally include gambling, debt repayment, alcohol and tobacco, anything which is illegal, and anything which will cause harm to yourself or other people
  • to meet needs in ways which are solely the responsibility of the NHS, such as the provision of medication.

If you think you may be eligible you should contact us and we will carry out a Community Care Assessment and if your needs are urgent they will organise immediate care and support.

Direct payments

Social Services Direct payments are normally available if you are:

  • disabled and aged 16 or over
  • a parent or carer aged 16 or over (including people with parental responsibility for a disabled child)
  • an older person

For more information and advice have a look at the Direct Payment Fact Sheet, Direct Payments Price List and the Direct Payment Audit Leaflet.  Alternatively contact Halton Borough Councils Direct Payments Teamon 0151 511 7575.

PrePaid Cards

A prepaid card account is just like a current account from your bank with a debit card. Halton Borough Council pays your Personal Budget onto the card so that you can use it to pay for services agreed in your Care Support Plan.

Personal Assistants

People can now choose to arrange their own social care services with a direct payment from the Council and many are choosing to employ their own personal assistant. Tasks performed as part of the personal assistant role are; personal care, washing and bathing, getting dressed, leisure activities, cooking and preparing food, cleaning and housework, driving, getting around, shopping, getting into and out of bed and chairs, using the toilet, assisting with medical visits. A personal assistant does not take over control from the service user but provides the right assistance. You do not necessarily need to have experience of social care to become a personal assistant however, training is arranged if required.

If you are interested in using a Personal Assistant you can contact Halton Disability Partnership who help people looking for Personal Assistants, provide support with employment of PA’s and payroll.

Skills for Care offer a really useful interactive toolkit if you are interested in employing a PA, the website gives people access to a range of information that they would need to be aware of in relation to employing their own PA’s.

DBS Checks For Personal Assistants

HBC can carry out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for personal assistants at the request of our clients. A DBS check will show whether a PA has a criminal record or not. It is highly recommended that if you employ your own Personal Assistants, that a DBS Check is undertaken. This service is free for direct payment recipients.

Self Employed Personal Assistants

We do not recommend contracting with self-employed individuals for PA tasks.  There are very few instances when someone can be truly classed as self-employed if they work for someone who receives a Direct Payment.  Her  Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can help you determine your worker’s correct employment status.


You need to ensure the person supporting you can be classed as self-employed as you could become liable for tax and national insurance payments backdated from when they commenced working for you.  Your Direct Payment may be suspended, or end if we are not satisfied that the arrangements in place comply with HMRC requirements.

Sometimes an individual will be classed as self-employed in another role, but this does not determine their correct status when they work for you.  Just because a worker is self-employed in one job, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will be self-employed in another job.

The quickest way of getting HMRC’s view on whether your PA is employed or self-employed is to use the Employment Status Indicator tool (ESI)

You will need to take a note of the unique reference number provided, plus retain a copy of the questions and the answers you provided. This will need to be produced should a query arise at a later date.  Halton’s Direct Payments Team will need to see proof of all Self Employed Status outcomes from HMRC for their records.

If you are unable to use the Employment Status Indicator tool (ESI), or are unsure of your worker’s employment status you can telephone the HMRC Status Customer Service Team on 03000 527450 9.00am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday, except bank holidays Please seek advice before recruiting anyone who claims to be self-employed or contact Halton Direct Payments Team who will be able to go through the employment status indicator tool with you on 0151 511 7575

If a Tribunal rules that you are the employer, you may have to pay the personal assistant for unfair dismissal (up to £58,000) That’s why it is essential to check the status of your personal assistant.

Other considerations

Example of how a self-employed person may work:

  • They will run a business as a self-employed person
  • They will do their own tax and NI Deductions and send an invoice for you to pay
  • They will not be paid sick pay or holidays by the people who they work for
  • They will choose the way they want to work and you purchase their services
  • They will have their own business insurance
  • Should provide references for you to see
  • They should provide major pieces of equipment needed to do their job.
  • Will invoice you for the work they have carried out, ideally four weekly or monthly.
  • They will usually dictate their terms and conditions of services and provide a service contract for you to sign.

CQC Registration

A self-employed must register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if they are providing personal care support to clients.

Managed Account

If you have a Managed Account, the organisation managing your account will ask you to provide details of the self-employed person’s bank account details, as they can make payments directly into their bank account.

If you have a self-employed PA, we advise you notify the organisation that you need to see a copy of the invoice and authorise it before any payment is made. This will reduce the risk of any misunderstanding in the event of a query over payment.

We can ask at any time to see copies of documents that support the arrangements you have in place that comply with HMRC and any other legal requirements.

Contracting with an Agency Provider

People using Direct Payments may wish to use an independent agency, you or the person you're looking after has to find the care agency and pay them.  The agency will provide a service through a trained team of care workers, which means you may not always have the same person visiting your home, although the agency will do its best to take your choices into account.  If the agency is providing Personal Care, then the homecare providers are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Homecare agencies must meet CQC’s national minimum standards and regulations in areas such as training and record-keeping. The CQC has the power to inspect agencies and enforce standards.  

Further information and advice on choosing an Agency Provider is available in our Agency Provider List​ and from Which.

Becoming an Employer

People using Direct Payments may wish to employ their own personal assistants rather than contracting with an Agency.  Further information and advice on your responsibilities is available in our guide.

Funding for employer and or PA training

If you employ your own care and support staff, you can apply to Skills for Care to get money for training for you and your personal assistant. The money that is available is called individual employer funding.  You can also receive support to complete the funding application forms from Halton Disability Partnership.

Self Directed Support for you

Self-Directed Support is a way for people who are eligible for funding adult social care to get the support they need. Following a Social Care Assessment the service user will be given a Personal Budget to meet their eligible needs.

A Supported Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)is completed by the individual and a relevant practitioner, in order to identify what the individual’s needs are, this is done by asking the individual about different aspects of their lives including their social activities, physical and mental wellbeing and practical aspects of daily living. The results of the Supported Assessment Questionnaire are then used to calculate a budget, which is usually the maximum amount of funding that can be made available to meet the needs of the individual.

Further information can be found on The Definition of Self-Directed Support Leaflet or phone 0151 907 8306 (Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm)

Virtual Budget

A Virtual Budget is where the Council manages the money on your behalf. This means that, with your agreement, we will arrange services for you based on your budget. With a virtual budget you do not have any responsibility for paying for the services you receive. You do not have to manage a bank account, keep invoices or receipts.

You will have the opportunity to create a support plan with your Healthcare Manager or Support Broker to identify how your money can best be spent to meet your health needs. You will not be able to employ anyone directly to provide you with care and support.

Further information, please call us on 0303 333 4300 (Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm)


You may be called a self-funder if you are meeting the costs of your support without any help from the Council. This can include support to live independently at home or in a care home.  

If you have more than the maximum amount in savings or your income covers the cost of your care then a contribution will not be able to put toward the cost of your support.  This is called self-funding.  Some people choose to be self-funders because they do not want to be financially assessed or they choose to make their own arrangements for support. 

Self funders who wish to employ their own Personal Assistants can still receive support from Halton’s Direct Payments Team on areas such as Recruiting a Personal Assistant, Payroll, Insurance, Health & Safety or from User Led Organisation Halton Disability Partnership who help people looking for Personal Assistants, provide support with employment of PA’s and payroll.

Further information is available on the Care Act Factsheets

Payroll Service

Clients who choose to employ their own Personal Assistants have access to a Payroll Service to assist them with their Employer Responsibilities in paying their Personal Assistants and to take away the worry of calculating their tax and national insurance for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).  Since April 2013 Real-Time Information (RTI) submissions are now a mandatory requirement for all employers no matter how small.  If you employ anyone, their wage information must be electronically submitted to HMRC each pay period.  Returns submitted late, incorrectly or not at all can incur penalties from HMRC.  By using a payroll service, this will ensure that all information required by HMRC is submitted correctly and on time so you will not have to worry about keeping up to date with the latest legislation or meeting constant deadlines.

The Payroll Providers role would be:

  • to provide information to the Inland Revenue
  • send payslips to the Direct Payment Employer so he/she can pay their personal assistant's wages
  • liaise with the Inland Revenue and the finance department of the council (which pays the Direct Payments)
  • completes the forms needed to send to the Inland Revenue at the end of each year.

The Direct Payment Employers role would be:

  • make sure Personal Assistants hours are correct
  • inform the payroll provider if a Personal Assistant leaves/starts/takes holidays/is off sick
  • pay all invoices promptly (from the Direct Payment for HMRC payments/payroll charges/wages to Personal Assistants).

If you decided to manage the payroll yourself, you would need a Payroll Software package such as Sage, in order to meet HMRC regulations and to comply with legislation as above.  Further information is available from the Direct Payments Team.