You might need support in your daily life, such as help with taking care of yourself, going shopping, visiting the doctor or looking for work. You may also like support to meet up with friends, take part in your hobby or have a holiday away from your family.

Your local adult social care department can help you to work out what you need, and might be able to help to arrange the support. You might have to pay for some of the support.

Get information about needs assessments, paying for support and support for carers. You can also find out how to make a complaint, about community care for children, and where to get advice.

Needs assessments

You have a right to a needs assessment if you have an autism diagnosis or an apparent need. The Autism Act guidance says that it doesn’t matter what your IQ is or whether you have other disabilities or not – you are still entitled to a needs assessment if you are autistic.

Your local authority's website should tell you how to apply for a needs assessment. You could use our letter template to ask for an assessment.

There is no time limit for your local authority to do the needs assessment.‎ If you haven’t had a reply within six weeks, contact them to find out what is happening.

The assessor

The Care Act 2014 says that the assessor must have a good understanding of your condition or they must consult someone who has. That means that someone with a good understanding of autism must be involved in your assessment.

You can have a family member, friend or advocate to be with you during the assessment. If you have substantial difficulty in being involved in the planning process, social services must provide an advocate.‎

If you have a carer, social services must involve them in the assessment, as long as you are happy with this.

The location

A social worker or a community care officer will usually visit you at home to do the assessment. Sometimes, they might want to do it over the phone or online. They might ask you to complete some forms yourself (a self-assessment). You don't have to agree to this.

Your local authority must take into account your preferences and needs when deciding when, where and how to do the assessment. If you do not have mental capacity, t‎hen a face to face assessment should be arranged.

The questions

Before the assessment, the local authority must give you a list of the questions they will ask. You might want to write down all the areas that you feel you need support with before the assessment.

The assessment should include needs you may have in the future. It should consider whether your wellbeing is likely to get worse in the near future if support is not put in place. The assessor should listen to what outcomes you would like to achieve. This is called being person-centred and social services have a duty to work in this way.

More about needs assessments.


Not everyone who has a needs assessment will be entitled to get support. Your local authority will help you to get support if your needs meet the national eligibility criteria.

Planning and reviewing support

If you are eligible for support, social services should develop a care and support plan with you. This is sometimes just called a care plan. The plan will say how your care and support needs will be met.

Your local authority must review your support at least once a year to make sure that it still meets your needs. If they decide that you no longer qualify for local authority support, they should give you information about other help available.

More about support options and care plans.

Paying for support

Community care services for adults are means tested. This means that how much help you get to pay for the support you need will depend on your income and savings.

The local authority must work out what services you need before doing the financial assessment. This is so that your ability to pay will not influence their decisions over what to provide.

If you are paying for your own support, you can still ask the local authority to arrange the support for you. They may charge you for this but they are not allowed to charge more than they would for someone whose care they are funding.

Find out about the financial assessment.

Personal budgets and direct payments

If the local authority is going to fund some or all of your support, they will work out a ‘personal budget’. You will be able to choose whether the council should use this budget to arrange services for you, or should give the funding to you, or your carer, as a direct payment. This can give you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided, and is called ‘self-directed support’.

If you get direct payments, you must use the money to pay for the support your assessment said you need. Here are some examples of what you might use direct payments for:

  • a personal assistant to support you at certain times or with certain tasks
  • someone to support you on holiday
  • a family member or a friend (usually, this mustn’t be someone who lives with you) to offer you support rather than a care worker from an agency.

If you have long-term health and personal care provided outside hospital (NHS continuing healthcare), you could also get a personal health budget.

Find out more about:

Support for your carer

The Care Act 2014 gives carers of adults the same rights as those they care for – the right to an assessment, a care and support plan if they have eligible needs, and a personal budget. A carer can have a carers assessment even if the local authority have assessed the person they care for as not being eligible for services, or if the person they care for doesn’t want their needs assessed.

More about carers assessments and eligibility criteria.

If you don’t agree with something

If you disagree with your local authority’s decision not to pay for your care services, or you don’t think you’ve been offered enough support to meet your needs, or a service has been withdrawn, you can challenge their decision.

Complaining about social care services.

Other types of support

Transport and car costs

Adapting your home

Support and social groups


Get care advice

Last reviewed November 2017