Indirect Payments


This study investigated the practice of offering and administering direct payments for people who lack capacity.

From November 2009, a group of social care service users became entitled to receive direct payments for the first time – people who may lack capacity to consent. This new group of people included those with learning disabilities and dementia.

Direct payments can be made to other people as well as the service carer - for example, a carer or trusted family member - on behalf of the person lacking capacity. These 'suitable persons' manage the direct payment account for the service user with their best interests at the centre of all decisions.

We wanted to find out how direct payments are being offered and managed by these groups of people:

  • practitioners who deal with direct payments through their work
  • people asked to help manage a direct payment budget
  • people with either dementia or a learning difficulty who use social services and have a direct payment set up.

To do so, semi-structured interviews were used to explore experiences of direct payments in six English local authorities. We carried out this study in conjunction with the University of Bristol.


Indirect Payments summary findings report
Indirect Payments practitioner's guide

Indirect Payments app

Download from the Apple Store
Download from Google play (for Android devices)


Health and Social Care in the Community - Indirect payments: when the Mental Capacity Act interacts with the personalisation agenda
Dementia - Beginning to explore the experience of managing a direct payment for someone with dementia: The perspectives of suitable people and adult social care practitioners
Indirect payments: when the Mental Capacity Act interacts with the personalisation agenda

Get in touch

Contact Toby Williamson, Head of Later Life for further information about the project