Paying for social services
In Northern Ireland health and social care trusts, not local councils, provide social care services. So where we talk about councils here, for you this means your local trust.
First your council will do an assessment of what care and support you need. If this finds that you qualify for help, your council will look at your finances to work out how much you need to pay towards it.
In Scotland all adults can get free personal care if their local council has ruled that they qualify for it. Personal care covers help with getting up, washed, or dressed, eating or going to the toilet. The council may charge for non-personal care, for example shopping and help with housework, depending on their charging policy and the outcome of a financial assessment
Your council will ask you about your savings, any welfare benefits you get, and money you have coming in from a pension or private income (such as rent that people pay you). How much you're allowed in savings may be different depending on where you live.
If you disagree with how much you're asked to pay, you can appeal against the decision.
If you qualify for help paying for your social care, there's now much more choice about how you use it to pay for services.
Find out more
A personal budget is how much money your local council decides it will spend on your social care. In Scotland and Northern Ireland personal budgets are also called Self Directed Support. For more information about self-directed support in Scotland visit the Citizens Advice Scotland website.
Anyone who qualifies for social care gets a personal budget.
You can pay for anything with your personal budget so long as it's legal and helps you meet what's been agreed in your care and support plan. You must first agree with your council what you'll spend this money on.
For example, if your support plan says you need to exercise, you could use your personal budget to pay for something like gym membership.
Your council can give you the money in your personal budget as a 'direct payment'. With these payments you can arrange your own care and support. You can use them to buy the help that your care and support plan says you need.
Direct payments give you more control and flexibility over how you're given support. You can choose who comes to help you, when they come and what you want them to do.
You can use direct payments to get the support you need with everyday things like shopping, going to college or enjoying your leisure time. The payments can also cover personal care (help with getting up, washed, dressed or going to the toilet).
Many people use direct payments to hire their own staff, called 'personal assistants'. Some people pay for care from an agency with their direct payments. You can also use a mix of direct payments and services from your council if you want.
Direct payments aren't right for you if you need to move into a residential care home.
Managing your money
If you decide to use direct payments, you might feel managing this is too much for you. If so, you can let someone you know do this for you. This can be a friend or member of your family. Or you can choose an independent 'broker' or 'advocate' to manage this money. Some organisations such as disabled people’s organisations or centres for independent living can find you a broker or advocate.
For more information about personal budgets and direct payments, contact the personal budgets helpline at Disability Rights UK.
To find out what’s available in your area, or local organisations that can find you a broker or advocate, speak to your local council's social care services department.
Independent Living Fund
The Independent Living Fund (ILF) provided ‘top up’ money to add to local council care packages for disabled people. It no longer exists in England and Wales. In Scotland the Scottish Independent Living Fund (SILF) is still making payments for people in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
For further information about the ILF see the Disability Rights UK website
NHS continuing healthcare
Some people who get social care also need very complicated health care at home and so they qualify for 'continuing healthcare'.
It can help with things like bathing, getting dressed and laundry, or pay for a care home. It's paid for by the NHS but your council might pay for some of it. Ask your social worker about continuing healthcare if your MS gets worse and social care is no longer enough to give you the support you need.
To get this care you have to be assessed by health care professionals. For more information, see the NHS Choices website.
In Scotland continuing health care has been replaced by Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care. Read more about that here.
Campaign to improve social care
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