We will publish here direct payments advice and support that we find that may help you during these difficult times. SCODP do not offer direct payments support service but as disabled people ourselves, many of us are direct payments users.
We will do our best to keep you up to date on current changes/legislation and to try to ensure that we bring you information and advice from Suffolk and other schemes around the Country. We provide links below to relevant information and also the source of the information. However please note that this is a fast changing situation and the information and advice can change quickly. We will update as quickly and as often as we can.
If there is specific information you need, contact us and we will do our best to find it for you. Contact us on: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Or click on the ‘contact’ tab above.
Skills for Care
Rapid Induction Training
Skills For Care have provided a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) factsheet regarding rapid induction training for things such as moving and handling. This can be accessed by PAs:
Can Personal Assistants (PAs) access this and if they can should this be the PA or the individual employer who contacts the endorsed provider?
PAs can access this. The individual employer should contact one of the endorsed training providers.
The Factsheet can be found here: FAQs rapid induction training
Guidance for direct payments users during Covid19
Suffolk County Council
Suffolk County Council have provided guidance for direct payments users who employ their own personal assistant(s).
The guidance includes information on:
a. What to do if your PA cannot work;
b. Help to ensure your receive the assistance you need;
c. Personal Protective Equipment – PPE
d. A downloadable letter for your PA to show they are a key worker
d. Flexibility around how you can use your direct payments. Please note: if you need to use your direct payment differently you will need to contact social services first but they are happy to look at flexible options.
The guidance can be found here:
Please note: This does not include guidance for self funders. We are awaiting that guidance and will update you as soon as we have it.
Support Services in Suffolk
Suffolk Independent Living
SIL have some useful information including a detailed guide from the insurance company which they have shared for us below (thank you).
You can find SIL here: https://www.suffolkindependentliving.org.uk/
The guide from the insurers is here: insurance company
SIL have also informed us that the furlough funding does not apply to people using public funds – i.e. direct payments from local authority (SCC) or NHS. This is what it says:
“Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them.
This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to COVID-19 are not expected to furlough staff.”
You can find this information via this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
What does not seem to be clear is if you are a self-funder, can you apply for 80% of the cost of your furloughed employee. We have asked this question and will let you know.
We are also awaiting the guidance from SCC which we have asked for an answer to the following;
If a direct payments user is having to furlough a worker because of the virus and need to use their direct payment money to pay the PA wages, will SCC provide additional funding so that the direct payments user can pay someone else to cover the duties of the furloughed worker?
We will let you know when we receive this information.
Skills for Care
Information on services around the Country
Skills for Care have set up a separate tab on their information site which gives a summary of some of the information and advice coming from support schemes around the Country. There is a page for PAs and a page for Direct Payments users. You can find the link here: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Employing-your-own-care-and-support/Main-Menu-Items/COVID-19-IE-and-PA-updates.aspx
How to ensure your PA(s) are seen as key workers.
Are Personal Assistants key workers?
It has been confirmed that personal assistants (PAs) are included in the definition of a Health and Social Care key worker. If being challenged they might need to carry a copy of their contract of employment and Job description, and or a letter from the employer.
We are working with Suffolk County Council to ensure that all direct payments users have access to such a letter as they do in other areas. As soon as we can, we will let you know how to get hold of one. In the meantime, it is advised that your PA should carry a copy of their contract of employment and a letter from you saying they are travelling to get you essential supplies or to provide you with essential services.
Anyone who has problems with this or if their PA is stopped by the police and this is questioned, please let us know. We work closely with the Suffolk Constabulary and they are keen to hear of any problems. We are all in a new situation and they are learning as they go along, as are we.
Information: Independent Lives
If you don't want your PA to come to work
80% of wages claim back
The following is from Independent Lives. Please however read the guidance from SIL above. This may (or may not) still apply to those who self fund but not probably not to those who are on direct payments from SCC or the NHS. This is a fast changing scenario so please do check back regularly.
I don’t want my PA to come to work
If you feel it is safer for you, for your Personal Assistants to not come to work (a period of lay off) for example you are high risk, or are in a high-risk household and believe you can manage for the advised 12 weeks without the need for care or your employee provides social care which isn’t needed as you’re self-isolating, the Government is encouraging you to protect your employee’s job in the new Government Job Retention Scheme.
This scheme is allowing a leave of absence with pay ‘Furlough Leave’. The Government will pay 80% of your employee’s salary to make this possible. This scheme is running for an initial period of three months.
Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but the PA must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. The PA can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.
You will need to talk this through with your Insurance Company. They can help you draft a letter to your PAs.
Please check your Personal Assistants contract of employment as this might state enhanced payments in periods of ‘lay off’ which is similar to Furlough leave. For example, 4 weeks full pay, you would have to pay them 4 weeks full pay then you could go down to 80% for the period after. If there is no enhanced pay clause then you can pay them 80% of their contracted pay from day one.
The period you can continue to do this has initially been set for 12 weeks by the Government but it is advisable to put in the letter to your PA that this is subject to your Direct Payment not being stopped or reassessed at any point.
If you are going to use Furlough leave, as with all employment changes, please talk it through with your insurance provider.
Information: Independent Lives
Statutory Sick Pay
How this relates to you and your PA(s)
My Personal Assistant has symptoms
If your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms, as described by the government guidelines, a cough or temperature requiring them to self-isolate, or they are at risk themselves due an underlying health condition, if they earn above the Lower Earnings Limit then statutory sick pay would apply from day one. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-thresholds-for-employers-2020-to-2021#statutory-sick-pay-ssp
The statutory sick pay (general) (coronavirus amendment) regulations 2020 came into force Friday 13th March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance – no need for formal written notice to be given by medical officer as we have previously been advising. Definition of ‘Persons deemed incapable of work’ now includes:
(i) isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland(d) or Public Health Wales(e) and effective on 12th March 2020; and
(ii) by reason of that isolation is unable to work.
NOTE this amendment is set to automatically expire 8 months unless otherwise removed by statute.
If they do not quality for SSP please sign post them to this link for possible financial support i.e. Universal Support or Employment Support
To be eligible for SSP you must earn an average of at least £118 per week.
If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.
If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.
Information: Independent Lives and KDC
PAs and childcare restrictions
PA(s) looking after children
My Personal Assistant cannot work due to childcare
If your Personal Assistant’s children need to stay at home because of school closures, they can apply for a reasonable amount of unpaid dependant’s leave to care for children. They may also be able to take unpaid parental leave (up to four weeks per year per child) or you could ask to take annual leave. Please see https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave
Information: Independent Lives
If you PA is stranded abroad
My Personal Assistant is stranded abroad
If your Personal assistant is stranded abroad because their borders are locked down, the Personal Assistant would not be paid as they have not turned up for work. If as an employer you are happy to extend their annual leave then this could be an option. There are no disciplinary aspects to this.
The government has completed a guide for employees or you could contact ACAS if you would like some independent advice or your Insurance company.
Information: Independent Lives