Paying for care homes

Council funded care homes

Understanding how much you may pay for your care if you are eligible for a council-funded care home placement.

Do I qualify for local authority financial assistance?

If you have been assessed by the local authority as needing a care home place and your capital including your savings is below £23,250 you may be entitled to financial support from your local authority.

If assessed as eligible and you have capital and savings below £14,250 you may be entitled to maximum support contributing your income less a personal expense allowance. If you have capital and savings between £14,250 and £23,250 you must pay a capital tariff of £1 per week for each £250 you have between these two figures. Capital includes the value of your former home unless it’s occupied by your partner, or a relative who is aged over 60 years or incapacitated, or a child under 16 years who you maintain or a separated partner who is a lone parent.

Do I have a choice of care home if the council is contributing?

Yes and it can even be in a different county. The home you choose must be suitable for your assessed needs, comply with any terms and conditions set by the local authority and not
cost any more than they would usually pay for someone with your needs.

What if a home costs more than the local authority is prepared to pay?

The local authority will allow a third party to top-up your fees as long as they are able to do so over the long-term. You are not allowed to top up the fees yourself in limited circumstances, although this may change from April 2016.

My partner needs care, how does this financially affect me?

The local authority will take into account 50% of any joint savings therefore, to accelerate
financial help, it is better to have separate single accounts meeting care costs paid from the
account of the person in the care home.

Paying for your own care home

If you have capital including your savings is above £23,250 or you do not meet the council’s eligibility criteria for a care home place, you will have to fund the placement yourself. You may be classed as a self-funder or self-funded care 

Will the local authority pay my fees whilst I am selling my former home?

If, apart from your property, your other capital is below £23,250, the local authority may help with the costs during the first twelve weeks of permanent care. This is called a twelve week property disregard. Beyond that period any financial help will be charged against the value of your former home, interest and an arrangement fee may also be charged. The council will then be repaid from the eventual sale proceeds.

Do I have to sell my property?

The local authority may contribute towards the cost of your care and charge it against your property value. This is called a deferred payment. This means you should not have to sell your home during your lifetime to pay for your care. The local authority will usually be repaid from the sale of the property at a later date or from your estate. There may be an arrangement fee for this and interest will also be charged.

Do I have to pay Council Tax on an empty property?

If you move into a care home and your property is left empty you should receive full exemption from Council Tax until it’s sold.

Is there any financial help that is not means tested?

Attendance Allowance is a non-means tested, non-taxable allowance that you should consider claiming.

Whether your stay is temporary or permanent if you receive nursing care in a care home you may be entitled to an NHS Registered Nursing Care Contribution (RNCC), sometimes called Funded Nursing Care (FNC), towards the cost of your nursing care. It is paid directly to the home. If your needs are primarily health care related, you may be entitled to full funding from your local care commissioning group (CCG) if you qualify following an assessment under continuing care eligibility criteria.

What happens if I move into a care home independently and run out of money?

If you think that your capital is likely to reduce to £23,250, you should seek local authority assistance as soon as possible. However, if the home costs more than the local authority usually pays and won’t reduce its fees, you may need to find a top-up or seek less expensive accommodation.

If there is a likelihood that you will run out of money it’s important that you contact the council and arrange an assessment of your care needs with the Adult Social Care team to ensure they are aware of your care needs and financial situation. Also check if the care home can continue to accommodate you at the local authority’s funding rates, or if they will require a third party top-up.

Top-up payments

If the home you choose costs more than the rate the local authority usually pays for someone with your needs, you will have the choice to ask someone else to make an additional payment.

If there is no-one available to supply the extra payment, you can ask the local authority to find you another care home at the rate they would normally expect to pay. If, however, you do decide to live in the more expensive home and you have someone who is able to make an additional payment for you, they will have to pay the difference between your local authority rate and the amount the home charges. This additional payment is often referred to as a top-up or third party payment. The law has previously stated that you are not allowed to make this additional payment yourself, except in exceptional circumstances. However, this is about to change.

The way top-ups and third party payments work will change as a result of the new Care Act. Your local council will be able to advise you on this.

Charitable support

The voluntary sector is made up of charitable, not-for-profit organisations. Charities help people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, religions and ethnic origins, in many ways, often when the State cannot do so. If you or someone you know is struggling to meet the costs of care there may be a charity which could provide some help without affecting benefit entitlements.

The occupational benevolent sector excels in ‘communities of interest’. These include people wanting to live in a religious setting, or those looking for voluntary sector homes and housing with an ethos allowing them to share their lives with like-minded individuals. For example, a person who has spent their life as a professional may be seeking housing or care amongst other professional people. Another may have spent a working life in a motor factory and now wants to live amongst others with the same working background. Examples of Benevolent Funds can be found in our Useful National Contacts list.


Before you sign any contract prior to moving into a care home, the home should give you written details of all the charges it intends to make in its Statement of Purpose document. If there is anything that you feel unclear about, always seek professional advice.