Local authority duties towards people in receipt of direct payments

What are direct payments?

If you or someone you care for receives help from social services, you can apply for direct payments. These let you choose and buy the services you need yourself, instead of getting them from your local authority (LA).

Direct payments are cash payments which are only made to individuals who have been assessed by social services as needing care and support services.

Further information on direct payments from Department of Health.

Summary of local authority duties

Local Authorities (LAs) must assess the individual person's care needs.

Where people qualify in needing certain services, LAs should either provide:

Individuals may employ carers directly or through an agency.

Local authorities should:

What are the local authority's duties under health and safety legislation?

LAs have duties under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They are also required to assess risks. Guidance is provided on sensible risk assessment.

Health and safety legislation may apply where the LA:

The main duties of care, both criminal and civil, will rest with the employer. Where this is the person in receipt of payments, the LA may still retain duties.

Example - if specialised equipment is required for complex handling and the funding does not cover these needs, it could be argued that the decision by the LA not to provide enough funding to cover appropriate equipment or provide someone sufficiently competent to operate it,  is likely to expose non-employees to risk. The risk (or possibility of danger) might be said to have originated from the way the LA conducted its undertaking. Each case would depend on the particular facts, including the terms of the particular agreements with service users, and how reasonably practicable it was to do otherwise.

What should individuals do?

What is HSE's involvement?

Other organisations lead in health and social care regulation, as set out in our Who regulates health and social care page. This page also describes the circumstances under which HSE may investigate health and social care incidents.

Further information

See also

Updated 2021-09-29