Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996

The Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996 received royal assent on 4 July 1996 and came into force on 1 April 1997. This legislation gave local authorities the power to make direct payments to people between the ages of 18–65, who had been assessed as needing community care services.

Direct payments had been seen as a mechanism for giving back control and independence to people with disabilities and were supported by disability rights groups.

Direct payments gave cash to people to buy their own care, with the amount based on their assessed needs. They were originally intended to be cost neutral, or even cost saving.

Many people used their direct payments to employ personal assistants to support them. By 2008, there were around 125,000 personal assistants paid for through direct payments.


House of Commons.
Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996.
London: HMSO; 1996.

Evans J, Hasler F.
Direct Payments Campaign in the UK.
Independent Living Institute; 1996.

Adams L, Godwin L.
Research Report: Employment aspects and workforce implications of direct payments.
IFF Research; 2008.