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Direct payments FAQs

What is a prepaid card?  Back to top

A prepaid card is like any other bank debit card, you can use the card to pay for your care and support services, but only when there are enough funds in your account. You will not be able to spend more than the available balance and therefore you cannot go overdrawn on a prepaid card account.

Your prepaid card is provided by Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) on behalf of Staffordshire County Council and Partners. PFS are experienced Prepaid Card Providers for direct payment customers; they also work with over 30 other councils across the country to deliver this service.  

Why have I been given a prepaid card?  Back to top

You have been given a pre-paid card to manage your direct payment from Staffordshire County Council.

If you are a New Service User the card will be loaded with an initial payment equivalent to 11 weeks of the maximum weekly allowance that you have been assessed as needing. This is called your ‘Float ‘ Payment.  If you are an existing Service User you will need to transfer the balance of your current Direct Payment bank account into your new Pre Paid Card Account.

If I have a Direct Payment do I have to have a prepaid card?  Back to top

The use of the pre-paid card for direct payments is our preferred option for people. However, the use of a traditional bank account is also considered and this will be discussed with you at the time of your child’s assessment.

Is the card safe and secure to use?  Back to top

As with all credit and debit cards, you need to take every precaution to keep the card safe and your PIN secure. The prepaid card aims to reduce the need to carry or hold large amounts of cash. Please refer to the cardholder terms and conditions, you should receive these with your prepaid card.

Whose name goes on the card if the Direct Payment is managed by someone else?    Back to top

For Children’s Direct Payments, the card will be in the parent or guardian’s name.

A Date of Birth is also required for security; this will always be the child’s date of birth.

If you have a ‘sibling package’ the date of birth will be your youngest child’s date of birth.  

I have received my card, now what do I do?  Back to top

Using the card is very simple. Once you receive your card you will need to sign the signature slip on the reverse of the card and you will need to activate the card either via the internet or via the telephone, this will then generate your Personal Identification Number (PIN). There are instructions accompanied on how to activate your card via the internet enclosed. Alternatively, you can activate your card and generate your PIN by calling one of the numbers below and following the instructions via the Interactive Voice Response system.

Please note - if you do not activate your card as soon as you receive it, the account may go overdrawn which could incur charges.

How is the cost of my weekly care package paid?  Back to top

If your child has been assessed as requiring Direct Payments, you will need to complete a reimbursement form on a four weekly basis. Once the form has been processed, the card will be loaded with the amount of money claimed. 

All Direct Payment clients will also receive an 11 week contingency (11 weeks of the initial weekly care package amount) for use in emergencies only. On termination of the Direct Payment this amount would be reclaimed from the account.

How do I pay for my care and support?  Back to top

This could be for PA wages, tax and national insurance contributions, agency invoices,  and so on. 

  • Telephone, bank transfer or online banking. 
  • To pay HMRC you can register online and also set them up on your prepaid card account in order to make payments. You can look online at their current banking details.
  • Regular standing orders.

I’ve always paid for my care by cheque, can I continue to do this?  Back to top

No, there is no facility to make payments via cheque with this system. There are still different options, listed above. You have the choice to use any of these methods.

How will I know how much money I have to spend on my prepaid card?  Back to top

We will load your card with the amount that has been claimed on your reimbursement forms.

You can check the balance of your account online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or by contacting one of the PFS telephone numbers listed on the back page.  Balances are not available to view at cash machines.

How will I know if the payment I have recently made has cleared from the account?  Back to top

You can contact the PFS Customer Service Team, see back page for telephone number, unless you access the account via the internet. 

Will I receive statements for this account?  Back to top

No, if you have access to the internet, you can check your account online, or you can contact the Staffordshire Cares Contact Centre to request copies.

Can I withdraw cash using the prepaid card?  Back to top

You will be able to use the pre-paid card to withdraw cash if a specific reason is identified in your child’s care plan and this has been agreed with your social work practitioner.

The card account does not operate a cash back facility.

Does the card have a credit limit?  Back to top

No, it is not a credit card and has no credit limit. You cannot spend more money than the available balance on the card.

What if the amount of my purchase is more than my available balance?  Back to top

In this case, your purchase will be declined and you must wait until the card has enough funds, please note you may be charged for these transactions.

Are there any fees for using my card?  Back to top

Fees may be applied for certain transactions, you should check with the company or supplier. Please note that there may be a charge if you try to use the card to make a payment and there is not enough money on the account; you may be personally liable for this cost; you should therefore keep a regular check on the account balance.

Does my card ever expire?  Back to top

Yes, you can find the expiry date on the front of your card.

If your card is about to expire, and is still active, please contact the council if you have not automatically received a new card.  Any balance remaining on the card will be transferred to the new one before it is sent to you.

What if my child no longer requires Direct Payments?  Back to top

You should contact either your Social Worker or the Duty Team via The Staffordshire Cares Contact Centre, to discuss ending your child’s Direct Payments, see back page for contact details.

If services are no longer required, any remaining money from your prepaid card account (once all outstanding bills are accounted for) must be returned to Staffordshire County Council.

You should not destroy the card until you are advised to do so.

Will my card account be monitored?  Back to top

We will need to monitor the money paid to you via your prepaid card. This is so that we can ensure payments are being used as agreed. The prepaid card system enables us to monitor accounts online. We can then give users a more effective and efficient support service.

You are responsible for paying any charges due to insufficient funds to pay a direct debit, not Staffordshire County Council.

What happens if I change my address?  Back to top

You must notify the council immediately.

Can I change the PIN assigned to me?  Back to top


I have forgotten my PIN number, what do I do?  Back to top

Contact PFS on one of the telephone numbers listed below.

What should I do if my card is lost or stolen?  Back to top

If your card is lost, stolen or you believe its security has been compromised, you must phone or email Prepaid Financial Services immediately to get a replacement card using the details below. It will take between 6 and 12 working days depending on when you request it. If you need to make a new payment during this time, contact Prepaid Financial Services:

What happens to money left over?  Back to top

The money paid to you as a direct payment is public money, which we have a duty to account for.

We will review your account from time to time.

If services are no longer required, we will take back the money from your prepaid card (ensuring any outstanding bills are accounted for).

Do I need to check anything before making a payment?  Back to top

You need to ensure that the card can be accepted and there are enough funds on the card.

Always check how a company or supplier will authorise payments on a card and whether they will they pre-authorise a certain amount as you need to have enough funds for this also.

Useful contact numbers  Back to top

Prepaid Financial Services (PFS)

020 3633 1328 (Monday – Friday 8.00am to 9.00pm)

Or email staffordshire@prepaidfinancialservices.com 

PIN issues and card activation

Use the Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) on one of the numbers below:

(24 hours, 7 days a week)

Calls will be charged at the standard rate. Calls from your mobile may vary depending on your provider.

Staffordshire County Council

For general enquiries about your Direct Payment call Staffordshire Cares on 0300 111 8010.

Text/SMS: 07814 194 111(for people with a hearing impairment)

Minicom: 01785 276207

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