I've been in receipt of direct payments for around five-years. At times I will have several thousand pounds in the DP account. Living on a low waged income money is tight; and, so on occasions I've been tempted to dip into the care account for some short-term financial relief. Thankfully, these instances have never gone beyond the temptation stage - nor, I'm certain will I succumb.
What keeps me vigilant is the fact that my LA can at any time ask to see my care account 'books'; and I must be available to present them with an up-to-date reckoning of all receipts and expenditure - maybe not an up-to-the-day record as I only submit returns on a quarterly basis.
My advice on DP's is to keep on top of the paperwork. If you're unable to handle the payroll end of business, engage a company that delivers this kind of service; though be careful here as some offer a more comprehensive service than others do - after all there is no point in paying for a service that expects you to complete, for instance your employees tax returns.
Most local authorities give advice on DPs either directly or through third-party voluntary sector set-ups. I'd advise any DP users, if they begin to get into difficulties, to look for help sooner rather than later. Issues financial have a horrible habit of compounding; and, what starts in month one as a few pounds gone adrift may end up in month six as a substantial amount of money.