Issue details

24/00051 - Commissioning of a Direct Payment Support Service Contract for Children and Young People

Proposed decision


That the Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services  approve the commencement of a formal procurement for a new Direct Payment Support Service commencing 1 April 2025 to 31 March 2028, with the option to extend up to a further 24-months.


Reason for the decision


To commit the budget for a commissioned Direct Payment Support Service in place of the current service that is due to end on 31 March 2025 and to formally authorise the commencement of a procurement.




As part of the support planning process, Direct Payments (DPs) are offered to individuals to provide a greater choice and control over their care and support arrangements. They are monetary payments that can be made to individuals to meet some or all of their eligible support needs. Direct Payments for parents or carers of disabled children are a statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 as amended by Sections 17A (inserted by the Health and Social Care Act 2001) and 17B (inserted by the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000).


Currently, the Direct Payment Support Service is delivered by a not-for-profit provider of Children’s and Young People Services. The service is open to:

• Parents and carers of disabled children

• Parents and carers of children with special educational needs

• Young people aged 16-25 with special educational needs

• Young disabled people aged 16-25


The current Direct Payment Support Service ends on 31 March 2025 with all available extensions enacted. The current provider has performed well against Key Performance Indicators and there is a need to procure this service from 1 April 2025.


Options (other options considered but discarded)


1)        Do nothing. The contract will end on the 31 March 2025 and alternative arrangements for the ongoing administration, and support, for Children Young People and Education Direct Payments. Currently there is no internal team that undertake this work for Children and Young People Direct Payments and there is a substantial risk that the Authority will not meet its statutory obligations.


2)        Commission an enhanced service which includes the recruitment and retention of Personal Assistants in addition to the set up and monitoring of Direct Payments. Engagement with DP recipients and users of the service identified a key reason for poor recruitment and retention of PAs is the low wage rate. The contract is not able to review wage rates for PA’s as wage rates are set by the DP recipient within the available budget, set by the Local Authority. The appetite for additional spend with no guarantee of a clear cost benefit is low given the councils current financial situation. This option is discounted.


The proposed Decision is in line with Kent’s Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities 2021-2024


Priority One: Improve the way we work with children and young people, parents and carers. Qualitative feedback from parents, carers and young people using the service remains extremely high. The survey indicates that as of March 2022 100% of service users rate the support they receive as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, and a similar number stated that the knowledge of the worker provided tosupport them was ‘good’ or ‘excellent’


Framing Kent’s Future Council Strategy 2022-2026:


Priority 4: New models of care and support: Our commitment is to reshape our commissioning practice to ensure we build strategic partnerships with our providers, through earlier engagement, more consistent and proactive commissioning practice, and a stronger focus on co-designing services.


Our commitment is to support the most vulnerable children and families in our county, ensuring our social work practice supports manageable caseloads, reflective learning, joined up safeguarding and effective corporate parenting arrangements.


In addition to Framing Kent’s Future, the Council has recently published ‘Securing Kent’s Future – The Budget Recovery Strategy’ which underpins any spending decisions and makes clear that the Council must adhere to its ‘Best Value’ statutory responsibility.  The proposal for this service adheres to the principles of the strategy


The statutory Best Value duty must frame all financial, service and policy decisions from this point forward, and services must pro-actively evidence the best value considerations in all decisions. Without ensuring best value, we will not be capable of meeting our wider statutory duties, and the services which flow from them, upon which our residents rely.


As outlined in Objective 2 of the strategy, Commissioners are ensuring any future opportunity for Adult Social Care to jointly commission a Direct Payment Support Service in the near future by ensuring a break clause is written into the contract and the initial term comes to an end after three years.


The Direct Payment Support Service seeks to maximise the number of Direct Payments in the county in line with; Securing Kent’s Future’ by optimising support for people between the ages of 14-25 as they transition from children to adult services, promoting independence in adult life.




Decision type: Key

Decision status: For Determination

Notice of proposed decision first published: 05/06/2024

Decision due: Not before 4th Jul 2024 by Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Reason: To allow 28 day notice period required under Executive Decision regulations

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services

Lead director: Kevin Kasaven

Department: Education & Young People's Services

Contact: Christy Holden, Head of Children's Commissioning Email:


The proposed decision will be considered at the Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee on 2nd July 2024.

Financial implications: The costs for the contract are funded from the Children’s Disability 0-18 Commissioning Revenue Budget. Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) will contribute approximately £320k over the lifetime of the contract, to cover the cost of supporting direct Payments that are held in this team. The cost of delivering the service over the full five-year period, 1 April 2025– 31 March 2030, is estimated to be £2,946,471.00.

Legal implications: Direct Payments for parents or carers of disabled children are a statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 as amended by Sections 17A (inserted by the Health and Social Care Act 2001) and 17B (inserted by the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000)

Equalities implications: Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) has been undertaken and no issues have been identified at this stage. The EQIA shall be kept under constant review as this project continues. Data Protection implications: A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) has been undertaken and approved by the Data Protection Officer. The DPIA will be kept under review during the procurement and throughout the contract duration.