Direct payments – personal assistants

A personal assistant is someone you employ to support the family in caring for the child or young person to take part in Short Break activities at home or in the community.

You can employ a personal assistant if your child is eligible for direct payments with a minimum budget of £1,500 per year. This is to make sure there is enough money for regular hours throughout the year.

If your child is under 8 and is being cared for outside the home for more than 2 hours per day the personal assistant must be a registered childminder. This doesn’t apply if the child is cared for within the family home.

You can't use funds meant to pay for your personal assistant to buy toys or play equipment.

The personal assistant may work from as little as 2 hours a week (this is usually the minimum contract) or families can choose to use the hours from their budget in a more flexible way to support the family during evenings, weekends and or school holidays.

Sunday working

You can’t force someone to work on Sundays. Even if they agree, they can opt out of Sunday working by giving 3 months’ notice. Visit GOV.UK Sunday working for more information.

Your Short Breaks coordinator can refer you to our direct payment support service team if you choose to become an employer.

You can’t employ anyone in your family, your partner or anyone who lives at the same address as you.

If you are looking for a self-employed personal assistant, you can search for them using the personal assistant register which can be found on the Norfolk Community Directory. They may work as a sole trader or as part of a partnership or may have set up a registered (limited) company.  They must be registered as a child-care company and have relevant childcare business insurance. They are responsible for paying their own tax and national insurance.

Both HMRC and employment tribunals have occasionally ruled that people operating as self-employed are actually employed. This often happened when a person worked for just one employer who was not able to replace them with another worker if they weren’t available.  You should seek professional advice to avoid this happening. Visit HMRC’s working for yourself page for more information, including an online checker to see if someone should be regarded as self-employed.

Visit Support and training for employing a personal assistant for more information.

You can claim mileage for your personal assistant if they are using their own car, have business insurance and if mileage costs (45p per mile and 5p per passenger) have been written into your child’s Short Breaks plan.

If you have a mobility car for your child, we expect this to be used for trips out.

We monitor all accounts online to check payments are in line with those agreed on your child’s Short Breaks plan. If we notice any problems with payments, we will suspend the account so you can’t use it and we will contact you to discuss those payments and what the next steps will be. You can find further information in your direct payment terms & conditions and any notes listed on your Short Breaks plan.