Find out more about how PCG's Virtual Wallet solution delivers Direct Payments, Personal Health Budgets and one off payments

  1. Can I procure Virtual Wallet off a single provider framework?

Yes, Virtual Wallet can be purchased off a single provider framework, please contact us on 03300 582 690 or email info@publicconsultinggroup.co.uk for more information.

  1. Does it work for Local Authorities and Health Services?

Yes, the Virtual Wallet solution has been designed to meet the needs of Integrated Personalised Commissioning and offer cost effective solutions for both Health and Local Authority organisations.

  1. Has the solution been reviewed by NHS England?

Yes, the Virtual Wallet solution has been reviewed by NHS England and we are on the preferred supplier list for IT solutions to meet the needs of Personal Health Budgets.

  1. What kinds of personal budget?

Virtual Wallet can be used for any type of budget, of any value, from a small one-off grant through to personal budgets and personal health budgets. Virtual Wallet can be used by an individual, their carer, Local Authority / CCG procurement or managed service teams, a third-party broker or an ISF provider to manage the budget.  Virtual Wallet can support all three types of personal health budget – direct, managed and notional. 

  1. Does PCG have to hold the money?

No.  Although there are often benefits to PCG holding the money, we can supply the Virtual Wallet on a ‘software only’ basis, with a third-party broker or ISF provider physically holding the funds in their own client bank account (or similar). 

  1. Can it work for Individual Service Funds (ISFs)?

Yes.  The Virtual Wallet gives ISF providers a comprehensive system and associated processes for the management of ISFs.  Using Virtual Wallet allows providers to focus on supporting the individual, with the Virtual Wallet taking care of the admin and providing transparency.

  1. What is the commercial model?

Our standard commercial model is that all of the fees associated with the Virtual Wallet are borne by the Local Authority / CCG based on an annual subscription fee basis.  However, we are willing to discuss alternative models (e.g. risk/reward share or transaction fee-based) if so requested by the Local Authority / CCG.  

  1. Is PCG a ‘broker’?

No. We are clear that it is the individual (or a third party acting on their behalf) that is making the decisions about their care plan and how it is delivered (in conjunction with the local authority / CCG).  Our service just makes the ongoing management of their support simpler.  Although we can engage earlier, our involvement typically starts when a budget has been agreed, a care plan has been put in place and the individual knows what they want. 

9. What about payroll?

Whilst PCG does process payments to PAs, the calculations are typically performed by payroll companies chosen by the individual / local authority / CCG.  When we start a new project, we can leverage our existing relationships with payroll companies and/or develop close working relationships with existing local payroll calculation solutions.

  1. How does it work with PAs?

Once an individual has found and appointed a PA (either using the PA module provided by PCG or through other means), the PA is set up on the Virtual Wallet system.  The ongoing process is then:

  • Individual creates a ‘schedule’ for the number of hours support that they want (i.e. making a booking, effectively creating Purchase Orders).
  • PAs record their actual hours (i.e. submitting timesheets, effectively creating a Delivery Note).
  • Individual authorises timesheets (i.e. approving a Delivery Note).
  • Automatic transmission (via SFTP of CSVs and/or APIs) of relevant data to the third-party payroll calculation organisation, and return file being uploaded.
  • Automatic generation of payments to PA, HMRC and pension company from the Virtual Wallet.

 

  1. What happens if someone goes into hospital?

The individual (or in this specific circumstance, more likely someone acting on their behalf) can amend and update their schedule of bookings at any time.  This includes planned and unplanned breaks in care.  We can also integrate the Virtual Wallet with case management systems so that the schedule is suspended automatically in the case of a hospital admission.   

  1. What about service user contributions and top-ups?

The Virtual Wallet can handle multiple funding sources, including contributions and top-ups.  We have experience of working on both a ‘gross’ and a ‘net’ basis. 

  1. What about the actual money?

The funds are held in a ring-fenced ‘client bank account’ that is administered by PCG and linked to the Virtual Wallet accounts.  There are proven and well-documented processes in place, details of which can be provided on request.

  1. Can the Local Authority / CCG nominate which bank is used?

Yes.  Our default position is that we utilise Barclays to provide our ‘client bank accounts’, as we have established an effective working relationship with them.  However, we can link the Virtual Wallet to – and utilise – a suitable client bank account with any other bank. 

  1. What IT / hardware is needed?

Users just need a web-connected device (PC, tablet or smartphone).  The Virtual Wallet solution is part of PCG’s ‘Assist’ platform.  The Assist platform is a fully managed cloud-based system and does not require any installation on any of your local machines. All updates are managed by the PCG deployment team and require no intervention by local authority / CCG staff.

  1. How do people access the Virtual Wallet?

Users just need a web-enabled device (PC, tablet, smartphone) and access the Virtual Wallet via a web-browser.  An app-based version is currently in development.   

  1. Who manages the Virtual Wallet?

It will often be the individual themselves.  However, each member of a person’s circle of support can have a specified role and permissions to access some or all of the data associated with the individual, using the “Work as….” functionality within the Virtual Wallet, which enables any individual or party (who has been given approval) to manage, or help manage a person’s personal budget.  Professionals can therefore access the same real-time granular information as an individual, as well as aggregated / summary information, together with system generated alerts (e.g. for over/under-spend). 

  1. What support do you provide?

We provide front-line helpdesk support (email and phone) to all individuals (and their providers) via our Virtual Wallet team based in our Wigan office.

  1. How do people spend their money?

Individuals can spend the money in their Virtual Wallet however they wish, so long as it is in-line with their support plan.  Most expenditure is on products and services purchased via the eMarketplace, but we have found creative ways for the Virtual Wallet to handle pretty much anything that an individual may want to buy. 

  1. Can spend be restricted or limited to certain things?

Yes.  Controls can be put in place to lock-down individual’s spend to specific categories, outcomes or suppliers. 

  1. What if the individual needs to pay someone in cash?

We have developed a number of different options for individuals to process non-standard payments or withdraw funds from their Virtual Wallet.  This is typically of low value relative to the overall level of spend, but is often disproportionately important and sensitive by its nature.  The appropriate solution depends upon the specific circumstances (i.e. type of spend, amount of spend), and the preferences of the Local Authority / CCG. 

  1. Can individuals over-spend?

Overspend can be eliminated with the Virtual Wallet.  We are able to implement system safeguards that prevents people from overspending and enable alerts when the budget is reaching a lower than expected level for that time period helping enable and empower people to effectively manage their funds.  The platform includes multiple options for triggering alerts and warnings based upon logical business rules (which will be defined / agreed with each site during the implementation project). 

  1. Does the Local Authority / CCG need an eMarketplace?

Yes.  The Virtual Wallet can be ‘plugged in to’ an existing eMarketplace or our team can help you develop a localised one within weeks by onboarding local providers. 

  1. What size of personal budgets can Virtual Wallet be used for?

The Virtual Wallet solution handles a huge range – the smallest are one-offs grants of £100, the largest are in excess of £50k per annum.

  1. What’s different to a pre-paid card?

There are many similarities.  When we developed the Virtual Wallet solution, we were keen to replicate many of the benefits of p-cards (simplicity of use, rapid payments) whilst also addressing some of the shortfalls.  We have produced a Virtual Wallet versus P-Cards comparison document, but some of the key differences are:-

  • Commitment accounting
  • Spend detail – total transparency which reduces the risk of inappropriate payments (fraud)
  • End-to-end process (order through to payment, with closed-loop procurement to prevent mis-spend)
  • Guaranteed payment to provider
  • Can’t end up with over-spend

 

  1. What about integration with other systems?

The Virtual Wallet has been integrated with a number of 3rd party systems through a variety of data exchange methods (export/import files and various web services).  These include a number of social care case management systems (Frameworki, Mosaic, Civica, CareFirst, Azeus), finance systems (SAP, Oracle, Sage) and customer facing council accounts (ForgeRock, ActiveDirectory, WS02).  We also have integrations with a number of payment gateways (including Capita, PayPal, PaySafe) and 3rd party booking systems (EventBrite, Acuity).

  1. Can Virtual Wallet be branded locally?

Yes.  Virtual Wallet can be branded (and/or named) to suit local objectives or programmes.

  1. What reports and alerts are there?

The Virtual Wallet platform enables system administrators to define triggers for automatically generated exception reports based upon the detailed business rules defined by each site (both generally in relation to all individuals, and specifically in relation to certain individuals). 

The system will automatically trigger an alert when thresholds are breached (or are likely to be breached).  The alert can be in the form of an email or a workflow notification sent to one of several members of staff.  The thresholds can be set for all individuals, groups of individuals or specific individuals.  It can cover areas such as over or under spend as well as:-

  • Missed deadlines
  • Overdue workflow
  • Periods of inactivity
  • Irregular activity (e.g. attempts to delete or amend records)

 

  1. What about clawbacks?

Each Local Authority / CCG can stipulate its own business rules for the clawback of unused funds.  We then implement these, debit the individual’s Virtual Wallet account and process a physical payment from the client bank account managed to the bank account nominated by the Local Authority / CCG. 

  1. What does a provider see?

Suppliers can access the platform at any time to review and analyse all of their orders, invoices and payments.  Alongside this, and the systematic generation of notifications and specific documentation such as remittance advices, we have also completed integration projects with a number of key suppliers, enabling data to be exported directly to their finance system (e.g. Sage, SAP).

  1. Are there any transaction fees or provider fees?

No.  Under our standard commercial model, all of the fees associated with the Virtual Wallet are borne by the Local Authority / CCG based on an annual subscription fee basis.  However, we are willing to discuss alternative models (e.g. risk/reward share or transaction fee-based) if so requested by the Local Authority / CCG.   

  1. Is it secure?

Yes.  Our data centres are ISO27001:2013 certified and NHS IG accredited.