Paying for residential care

Care funded by the council

Do I qualify for local authority financial assistance?
If you have been assessed as needing a care home place and your capital including savings is below £23,250 you may be entitled to financial support from your local authority. To find out
more, contact Adult Services. Contact details on page 106.

If you have capital below £14,250 you will be entitled to maximum support contributing your
income less £23.50 per week retained for personal expenses. If you have capital between £14,250 and £23,250 you must pay a capital tariff of £1 per week for each £250 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 paying?
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 topup of 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 from capital below £23,250. For more information on third party payments see page 60.

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.

Figures mentioned here may change over the lifetime of this Directory.

Paying for your own residential care


If you are self-funding your care because you are not eligible for local authority funding there are other forms of financial assistance you may be entitled to. These are explained below.

Will the local authority pay my fees whilst I am selling my former home?
If, apart from your property, your other capital including savings is below £23,250 the local
authority should help with the costs during the first twelve weeks of permanent care. Beyond
that period any financial help will be charged against the value of your former home and recovered from the eventual sale proceeds.

Do I have to sell my property?
No, the local authority may lend you the money to pay for your care charged against your property value. However, they could limit how much they will pay and it could adversely affect
your welfare benefit entitlements.

Do I have to pay Council Tax on an empty property?
If you move into a care home and your property is left empty then 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 paid at the lower rate of £53.00 for those needing care by day or night and, at a higher rate of £79.15 for those needing care by day and night.

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) towards the cost of
your nursing care, paid directly to the home at £109.79 per week. If your needs are primarily health care needs, you may be entitled to full funding from your local PCT following an assessment under their continuing care eligibility criteria. This figure applies to England only.

What happens if I move into a care home independently and run out of money?
If you think that your capital including savings is going to reduce to £23,250 or below you should seek local authority assistance. It is better to make the council aware of the likelihood of this happening in advance of it occurring. Be aware that, if the home you are in costs more than the local authority usually pays and won’t reduce its fees you could be in the difficult situation of either finding a source of top-up or seeking less expensive accommodation.

If there is a likelihood of running out of money it’s important that you arrange an assessment of your care needs with Adult Services as soon as possible to ensure they may be able step into help. Also check if the care home owner can continue to accommodate you at the local authority’s funding rates or will require a third party top-up.

What can I do to avoid this situation?
There are ways of meeting care costs for as long as you need care whilst using up only part of your capital. For example, the use of Immediate Need Care Fee Payment Plans can contribute towards capping the cost and, as so many older people wish, enabling an inheritance to be left for the family.

The important thing is not to try to do it alone, always seek professional advice.

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 is not clear or which you do not understand, you should ask for advice.

Figures mentioned here may change over the lifetime of this Directory.

Third party payments

If the home you choose costs more that 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 placement 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 ‘topup’ or ‘third party contribution’.

The law says that you are not allowed to make this additional payment yourself, except in
limited circumstances. Therefore, the additional payment has to be made by someone else, for
example, a family member or charity.

Before anyone agrees to make additional payments on your behalf they should be aware that the amount could change, usually increase, once a year and they need to be confident that
they can sustain the payments for as long as they are required. If the additional payments
stop being paid for any reason, then you should seek help and advice via Adult Services.

Once it has been established that someone is willing and able to make these payments they will be asked to sign an agreement to formalise the arrangement. Because the financing of care is a complex area it is advisable to contact the social worker who is arranging your placement with you, or Adult Services, to ask for advice and individual guidance.

If you move to a care home where a third party payment is required, the person who will make
the payment on your behalf must sign a contract with Essex County Council or Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, depending on where you live, before the contract with the home is signed. In doing so they must confirm that they have the financial means to make the third party payments (including any future increases) for the whole time you will live at the care home. If they are unable to maintain the payments and there is nobody else able to meet this cost, you may have to move to a cheaper home within the local authority’s funding levels.

If you are already a resident in a care home, and no third party agreement was required at the time you became a resident, the home may seek to introduce a third party payment at a later date. Also, if a change to your arrangements is made at your request or with your agreement,
for example you move to a superior room, and then an additional third party payment can
become due.