Northern Ireland: Personal budgets

2. What are direct payments?

The Carers and Direct Payments Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 empowers local HSC trusts to make direct cash payments to people for the community care services that they have been assessed as needing. Payments may be made to carers and to people with health conditions, including dementia. Trusts may arrange some services for a person as well as making direct payments to them.

In April 2004, it became mandatory to offer direct payments to eligible people requesting them. Trusts must consider every application to receive direct payments on its own merit. They cannot make one decision that covers all applications and requests involving people with dementia.

Direct payments do not give people an automatic right to a service. If the trust has a waiting list of people seeking a particular service, those wishing to pay using direct payments will still have to join this list.