Amy’s House Is Home To A New Hassle-Free Direct Payments Brokerage Service

28/06/2013

Sheffield-based children’s charity, Amy’s House has launched their free-of-charge Direct Payments brokerage service to much commendation from within the local community. Parents using the Direct Payments scheme often feel burdened with the complexity and amount of time needed to manage the scheme’s numerous layers of bureaucracy. Amy’s House removes this burden. Their brokerage service enables parents of children with special needs to choose how they organise their child’s care via the government’s Direct Payments scheme, without having the inconvenience and hassle of all the extra paper work that comes with it.

Since March 2013, Amy’s House has been helping parents find qualified, CRB-checked personal assistants (PAs) to accompany their children to activities. Every care is taken to ensure that the PA has had up-to-date safeguarding training and any other instruction relevant to the child’s specific needs. In many cases the PA is a familiar face and someone who already works with the child through the Amy’s House charity – which gives the family peace-of-mind, and the child a feeling of security. If the PA is not a known person, then Amy’s House will arrange home visits to enable the child and the PA to build a trusting relationship.  

Parents using the Direct Payments scheme are required to become employees of their PA, which in itself brings a level of bureaucracy that can be time-consuming, complicated and stressful. Amy’s House will provide all the necessary support around the complex sphere of employment law and will arrange requirements such as Employment Liability insurance. The charity also looks after essentials such as providing guidance with setting up bank accounts, organising time sheets to record hours worked by PAs, and will even manage their monthly payments, providing them with wage slips with all required tax deductions. Amy’s House is also authorised to manage budgets directly if this should be required by the family. If necessary, Amy’s House will coordinate services such as arranging bookings for children’s activities and will always be available as a point of contact should a parent or carer have any questions or concerns.

Maurice Littlewood MBE, founder and president of trustees of Amy’s House says, “We are really pleased to be able to offer this Direct Payments brokerage service completely free of charge. It gives parents total flexibility in choosing how their children are cared for and what’s more, takes the inevitable stress off their shoulders of having to deal with paperwork, giving them more valuable time to look after their children.”

As well as the Direct Payments Brokerage service, Amy’s House is the only respite charity in Sheffield to offer places to siblings of children with special needs. This gives hard-working parents a complete break for a few hours each week, enabling them to catch up with the things they may not have been able to do during the week due to the time needed to provide care for their children.  

Amy’s House also relaunched their website last month as part of their increased marketing effort to attract more awareness for their charity and respite work, and in turn more encourage more supporters and donations. The new and improved website has information dedicated to the Direct Payments scheme, as well as a members’ area where advice can be found on government policy relating to children with special needs with a forum where parents can share experiences, information and obtain various other online support.   

Amy’s House is moving towards helping families through individualised budgets and support planning which are plans due to be fed through to children’s services in the forthcoming months by the government. When this happens, Amy’s House will be able to work within the capacity of the support planner. To enable as many people as possible from within the local Sheffield community to benefit from their free of charge brokerage service, Amy’s House is requesting any parents of children with special needs to contact them directly to find out how they could benefit from the service.

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