Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

This guidance is for clients receiving Direct Payments (DPs) or a Personal Health Budget (PHB). It explains what effect coronavirus may have on personal assistants and their pay. It also explains how you can use your DP or PHB to buy personal protection equipment and to prioritise essential tasks.

If your personal assistant can't support you to meet your care needs because of coronavirus, or if you have any other personal welfare concerns, please call your practitioner, district nurse or the duty team at Portsmouth City Council. View useful contact details.

Information and guidance is developing and changing rapidly and we will update this guidance as frequently as possible. Please ensure you keep up to date with the latest government and health advice:

Payment dates

Payment of your Direct Payments or Personal Health Budget will not be affected. You can expect to receive payments on your regular payment dates.

Support provided by payroll providers

Your payroll provider will be able to offer advice about payment for your personal assistants during this time.

If you are using payroll services provided by David Howard or Enable, please see contact details for more information.

David Howard payroll

Telephone: 0208 977 3559

Postal Address: David Howard Ltd, 1 Park Rd, Hampton Wick, Kingston upon Thames KT1 4AS

Email Address: payroll@davidhoward.co.uk

Enable Payroll

Telephone: 0203 137 4406

Postal Address: Enable Payroll, PO Box 988, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3WB

Email info@enable-payroll.co.uk

Services provided by an agency

If you purchase your services from an agency, you should not expect any change. Your provider should have arrangements in place to ensure that you receive the care you need. If your provider can't provide you with the care you require, you should contact your practitioner, district nurse or the duty team at Portsmouth City Council (view contact details). They will be able to help you find another agency to meet your needs.

Personal Assistants (PAs)

If your PA is unable work due to self-isolation or sickness

The current Government guidance is to stay at home if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. More information on the symptoms of the virus can be found on the NHS website, and you can also find advice about self-isolating here. If your PA needs to self-isolate at home, they should not visit or care for you, or provide support until it is safe to do so.

If your PA is displaying symptoms, they will need to stay home and self-isolate, or you may need to ask them to stay home. If your PA earns above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) would apply from day one. From Friday 13 March, new SSP regulations came into force so there is no need for your PA to provide formal written notice by a medical practitioner at this time.

If they do not qualify for SSP, then they can check GOV.UK to see if they can get financial support in the form of Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

If you have to make any alternative arrangements or if you are having difficulties in doing so please ensure that you notify your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below). This is to ensure that your care needs are being met and that the Direct Payment Audit team are aware of any temporary arrangements and to expect new payees from your DP/PHB account.

However - if your PA is not displaying symptoms and you ask them not to perform duties through fear of your own safety, you may still be contractually obligated to pay your PA at their contracted hourly rate.

If your PA chooses not to come to work

If your PA chooses not to work, but isn't displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 and isn't identified as in the high risk categories as defined by the Government, then this should be considered as an unauthorised absence and therefore no payment should be made. PAs can request to take annual leave as an alternative.

Your PA has children, and cannot work due to childcare.  

PAs are considered to be key workers as per the Government's list.

Therefore you should advise your PA to contact the child's education facility so they can continue to perform work. Should your PA decide not to allow their child to continue in their normal education facility, this should be treated as unauthorised absence as above - see 'If your PA chooses not to come to work'

Please see https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave for more information.

If your PA can work, they should continue to fulfil their normal duties. However both you and your PA should adhere to all Government guidance and take all necessary safety procedures.

Can family members be paid out of the agreed Direct Payment/Personal Health Budget if 
PAs are not available?

Whilst Portsmouth City Council do allow family members and/or people that live with you to be paid from your DP/PHB in some circumstances, this is subject to the local Authority's discretion and only with prior consent.

When considering paying a family member, the financial implications for the family should also be considered, as the new income may affect any existing benefits or allowances that they may currently receive.

Please contact your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below), each request will be considered on a case by case basis and will require agreement from the Practitioner or District Nurse before any payment will be authorised.

For short term emergency arrangements, (i.e. up to 72 hours) local authority consent is not required. However, you will need to ensure that you notify HMRC as soon as possible for any tax implications. Additionally, you should advise the carer that any income received may affect any existing benefits or allowances that they may currently receive.

What is the Governments expectation on furloughing of PAs?

In general the government does not expect many applications for the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme for people who employ PA's through Direct Payments. This is because the requirement for service(s) continues and as considered "key role" delivery of care will still be required, and payment should still be met.

In the small number of cases where your PA cannot provide services and they cannot be redeployed to assist with the Coronavirus response, they may wish to make a claim, full details of why they are not able to work will need to be provided and their application will be assessed on a case by case basis.

You can find out more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and how it can be used by direct payment holders who employ people for their care on the goverment's website.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Can I use my Direct Payment/Personal Health Budget to purchase safety equipment?

Personal protection equipment (PPE) includes a variety of items and not all may be applicable to you, these include:

More detailed advice on PPE can be found within the frequently asked questions, produced by Skills for Care, which can be found hereYou can also check the Public Health guidance on how to use PPE effectively.

It is the employer's responsibility to source and supply Personal Protection Equipment to ensure your own and your PA's needs are adequately met. However currently such equipment is in short supply.

If you are having difficulty in sourcing PPE equipment, please contact your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below) when you have 48 hours or less supply left, arrangements will then be made to source this on your behalf.

You may choose to use your DP/PHB funding in a more flexible way during this period to prioritise essential tasks like:

  • personal hygiene
  • hygienic cleaning
  • clothes washing
  • food preparation 

    Before doing so you should speak with your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below) to ensure that your needs are being fully met.

Additional expenses

Can my Direct Payment/Personal Health Budget be used to cover additional expenses incurred by my PA during the pandemic - for example, car park charges if they are unable to travel by public transport?

In some circumstances this may be appropriate, however you must judge what is a reasonable and acceptable as additional expenses and these should be discussed with your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below) to ensure that funds are available to meet any necessary costs.

Any additional costs should be supported with evidence such as receipts, parking tickets to ensure that costs are correctly accounted for.

Useful links

Skills for Care have developed a Covid-19 information page for individual employers (DP/PHB service users) and personal assistants.

There is also a  set of frequently asked questions that has been produced to provide answers, info and support over this period.

Useful contacts

Please call the appropriate team below and request to speak to your Practitioner, District nurse or Duty Practitioner for support with your care needs, welfare concerns, funding requests, PPE requests etc.

Adult Mental Health Team

0300 123 3921

Carers Centre

02392 851864

Children Services

Please call your Practitioner on the mobile number they have given you.

Continuing Health Care

02392 437974

Direct Payment Support Workers

Please call the Direct Payments Team for general Direct Payment and Personal Health Budget advice

02392 688199

directpayments.supportworker@secure.portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Learning Disability Team

0300 123 4019

 

Legal advice

If you have any questions relating to your role as an employer, or you need support with legal matters, you can call your insurance provider's legal advice helpline for guidance. You will need your Insurance Policy Number to hand. Portsmouth City Council's preferred Insurance providers are Fish and Premier Care (Mark Bates):

Fish – Peninsula

0800 028 2420

Mark Bates Ltd (Premier Care) - MSL legal advice service

0161 603 2167

 

Employment advice

HM Revenues and Customs

Call 0845 143 143

New employers helpline 0845 607 0143

www.hmrc.gov.u

ACAS

Call 0300 123 1100

www.acas.org.uk

If you have a hearing or speech impairment you can contact ACAS using Relay UK: 180010300 1231100

NHS

Call 111 or use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service 111.nhs.uk/covid-19