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Direct payments pre-paid card factsheet

How can I use my direct payments budget using a pre-paid card?

Up to £500 can be used without having to list all the activities you may wish to access. This works extremely well for those unplanned ad hoc days out, such as bowling, cinema and holiday activities. Funds in excess of £500 are allocated to specific companies/events but still allow the flexibility to pay using online or chip and pin services/contactless. This works extremely well when purchasing annual passes such as Roar, National Trust or paying for termly activity fees such as swimming, karate or music lessons.

What if my provider can’t/won’t accept card payment, can I withdraw cash?

You can go online and make a bank transfer* or set up a standing order, direct debit or use telephone banking. Visit prepaidfinancialservices.com to register for online banking and to access your account.

You cannot withdraw cash; your card will be declined and the account will flag that a cash withdrawal attempt has been made.

* You cannot make bank transfers to your personal bank account (reimbursements). All payments must be direct to the activity provider using the PFS account payment methods above.

When can I use my card?

Outside of school hours (this includes children who are home educated), evenings, weekends and school holidays.

Can I pay for things such as food, drinks, transport, petrol, car parking, equipment, clothes or toys?

No, you cannot. Items such as these are the parent’s responsibility or you can choose to fund them via other means such as DLA, Carers Allowance grants, etc. PFS Cards are blocked from usage at supermarkets, cash points, garages, restaurants and other associated venues.

Can I pay for family members/friends costs?

No, the funding is specifically for the child named on the short breaks plan.

In some instances (e.g. concert tickets, theatre tickets) it may be practical for tickets to be purchased under the same booking reference to ensure families have seats together. In these circumstances you would need to upload the full receipt onto PFS and then reimburse the PFS bank account for the additional tickets purchased.

Can I pay for a holiday*?

No, short breaks funding does not cover holidays within the UK or abroad, including mini-breaks or any overnights away including hire of boats, caravans, tents, hotels, private homes. This also includes hotels when visiting theme parks and school trips held during school terms.

* We will pay for activity centres/trips when the child is in care of a professional group/organisation such as scouting/guiding camps or holiday centres such as Kingswood/PGL outside of school terms.

* We will pay for “activities” for the child while they are on a family holiday, etc, such as bowling, horse-riding, go karts, entrance fee to parks.

Can I pay for a carer’s ticket?

If you are able to provide the requested evidence to companies to be eligible for their child/carer concession, then you can purchase 1 x child concession ticket and 1 x carer concession ticket using the short breaks funding.

If your child requires two-to-one support at all times, i.e. to provide personal care/moving and handling needs, please discuss this with the Short Breaks team.

Where a company’s policy does not offer a free or discounted carer’s ticket as no child, regardless of a disability is allowed access without adult supervision, you cannot use short breaks funds to pay for an accompanying carer/parent/adult ticket.

Do you monitor my child’s account?

Yes, we monitor all PFS accounts online to check payments are in line with those agreed on your child’s short breaks plan. For those £500 unspecified funds, we regularly review purchases. Similar to your own personal bank account, all purchases are itemised therefore we can see where and when the card has been used. If we identify unagreed items have been purchased, the card will be blocked, and you will be contacted to discuss what action needs to be taken. Please refer to your direct payment terms and conditions and notes listed on your short breaks plan for further information.

I don’t know what activities are covered or where I can use my card?

Listed below are examples of popular agreed short break activities that families have purchased

  • Cinema tickets
  • Swimming lessons/private swimming pool hire
  • Horse-riding lessons
  • Boxing lessons
  • Trampolining 
  • Soft play
  • Merlin pass
  • Zoo passes
  • Music lessons
  • Event tickets such as 02, concerts, theatres 
  • Activities at Centre Parks/caravan parks such as karting, bowling, arts and crafts
  • School holiday clubs, community holiday clubs/after school clubs 
  • Specialist railway trips such as Mid-Norfolk Railway

You can also look on the following links for ideas:

Please do not hesitate to call the Short Breaks team if you are unsure if your potential purchase is allowed. Not checking directly with the Short Breaks team can result in the card being recalled and a debt raised against you.

The Short Breaks team are available Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4.30pm. Tel: 01603 692455.

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