Getting financial help to support your child

If you are over 18 years of age and are a parent carer of a child who has special needs and/or disability you may be able to get help from your local council following what is known as a “parent carer needs assessment”.

To be eligible for the assessment, your local council must be satisfied that your child is classed as a “child in need”.

What is a “child in need”?

A child in need is defined as one of the following:

  • a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services
  • a child whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of services
  • a child who is disabled - the law considers that a child is disabled if the child is blind, deaf, non-verbal, suffering from a mental disorder of any kind, substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity

The assessment considers all the help that your disabled child needs and will involve gathering information, assessing this information and deciding whether any of your child’s or family’s needs are eligible for support from the local council.

How can I arrange an assessment?

Contact your local council and explain that your child is disabled and that you want an assessment of the needs of your child and your family to be carried out.

You should describe your child’s impairment, what difficulties you are having and the type of help you would like.

Alternatively you could ask your GP, health visitor or voluntary organisation to contact them on your behalf.

The local council should respond within one working day, letting you know whether it will carry out the assessment

What support might your child be entitled to?

Local councils have different eligibility criteria for deciding who to provide support to.

If your child has been assessed as requiring support, these will be set out in a care plan which should be reviewed every six months.

Examples of the types of support include:

  • practical assistance in and around your home such as home help, personal care, equipment or adaptations
  • services based outside the home such as an after-school club or holiday play scheme
  • travel and other social care assistance to enable your child to take part in recreational activities or education
  • holidays
  • temporary short breaks or respite care

Direct payments

Direct payments give you more choice and control over the care your child receives. Direct Payments can allow you to shape your own childcare package to meet you and your child’s needs.

A direct payment is the amount of money that the local council/trust has to pay to meet the needs of you or the person you are looking after, and which is given to enable you/them to purchase services that will meet your/their needs (as assessed by the local council/trust).

If the person you are looking after uses the direct payment to pay for a care worker then there might be additional costs involved in this (ie recruitment costs, auto enrolment pension costs, national insurance and income tax cost etc.). If so then the direct payment amount must be sufficient to cover these costs.

Do direct payments affect any benefits I might be receiving?

Direct payments that you are given as a carer to purchase services to meet your needs as a carer are not counted as ‘income’ for any benefits you receive, and so would not affect any of your benefits.

Direct payments that the person you are looking after is given to purchase services to meet their needs are not counted as ‘income’ for any benefits they receive, and so would not affect any of their benefits.

However, if the person you are looking after pays you or anyone else with their direct payments, then this would count as ‘earnings’ and might affect any benefits you, or anyone else being paid, gets.

What are my responsibilities?

Everyone receiving a direct payment must keep records and submit accounts to the local council showing how the money was spent.

If the person you are looking after has been assessed as needing a care worker, and if they have been given a direct payment to purchase this service, then depending on how they purchase this service, they (or someone managing the direct payment on their behalf) might be taking on the responsibilities of an employer.

More information

For more information and to search for your local council’s contact details. please see the Government's site here.

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