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Updated on 6 April 2024

Independent living: paying for care

The government encourage independent living by giving you choice on how your needs are met. If you qualify, you can get money from different schemes so you can choose and pay for your own support and services. You may also choose to pay for help with your own money.

a person and their carer, sitting and holding hands
Dragana Gordic /

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Finding a personal assistant or carer

If you need a personal assistant (PA) or carer to help you live independently at home and to support you with things like cooking, shopping, medical tasks, personal care and getting around, you can:

  • have one provided by your Local Authority (if you qualify for government funding),
  • use a care agency (either using government funding or your own money), or
  • choose and take on a PA of your own (either using government funding or your own money).


If you have a lot of savings or a high level of income, you may not qualify for any government funding for care. The help available to you also depends on where in the UK you live. If you want to see if you qualify for any money from the different schemes available, as a first step, you should contact your Local Authority or council to discuss your needs. You can find contact details for your Local Authority or council on GOV.UK.

NHS personal health budgets/Access to Work grants

Some of the information in this section may be relevant to those who take on PAs or support workers using NHS personal health budgets or Access to Work grants, as well as those in social care situations.

Government funding for support other than care

Government funding may also be given to people in other contexts, for example, a personal budget/direct payment may be provided in special educational needs situations to pay for home-based tuition (Education other than at school plans). The same considerations regarding agencies and becoming an employer apply in respect of hiring a tutor as for PAs.

Taking on a personal assistant or carer

Taking on a PA of your own gives you more choice and control over who cares for you and what tasks they do, but it also means you might become an employer and have to deal with responsibilities such as tax, National Insurance, auto-enrolment and employment law.

You can find out more about using an agency (either a managed agency or introductory agency) or taking on your own PA in this section.

Unpaid help/informal carers

You may receive occasional help from family, friends and neighbours. Even though you may not pay them for such help, you may want to give them gifts as a thank you or reimburse any out of pocket expenses such as travel expenses. You will need to think about issues such as tax and the minimum wage if you give gifts or money to informal carers.

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