Whats in this section?
Whats in this section?
Financial assessment for social care
If your social care needs are supported by the local authority (as identified in a care needs assessment) you will be offered a financial assessment.
This will look at your:
- Capital – for example, any property you own, bonds and shares
- Savings – any savings you have in bank accounts
- Income – including benefits, pension and any income you might get from a job
Your local authority may ask you to contribute towards your care home or home care costs (depending on your circumstances).
Is my home included in a financial assessment?
If you’re moving into residential care, the value of your home will be included as part of your capital in the financial assessment. Should you be receiving care in your own home, its value will not be included.
Financial assessments and the Coronavirus pandemic
Please note that the Coronavirus Act has made temporary changes to local authorities’ legal responsibilities. As part of this, local authorities do not have to carry out financial assessments before care and support is put in place. They are able to charge retrospectively for any care and support during this time, but they must make this clear to you and must complete a financial assessment before any charges are made.
For more information see the GOV.UK Guidance on Care Act Easements
What does it cost?
If you don’t complete a financial care assessment you will be responsible for paying the full cost of your care and support.
You will be asked to contribute part of your income if it, your capital and savings are less than £14,250. The local authority may pay the rest.
If you have income, capital and savings between £14,250 and £23,250, you will likely have to contribute towards the cost of your care. You may need to contribute part of your income. You will be asked to pay £1 for each £250 If you have capital and savings above £14,250.
It is likely you will have to pay the full cost of care yourself if your capital and savings amount to more than £23,250.
Personal Care budgets?
Your personal care budget influences how much the local authority must contribute to your care, the amount is dependent on your care assessment.
The local authority must make sure your personal budget is high enough for you to get the care you need, as specified by the care needs assessment they carried out.
Their assessment must consider what your care and support needs are, and how these impact your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The council must increase its contribution to cover additional costs if your personal budget is insufficient for a suitable care home for your care needs. Your relatives should not be asked to pay the top-up fee.
As an example, if your needs assessment states that you need to be close to family, the council must cover any additional costs if this means you need a care home in a more expensive area.
The council may only increase your personal budget temporarily until a suitable cheaper care home place becomes available.
Care home fee increases
Care home fees usually increase annually, but be aware Council’s don’t always increase their contribution at the same rate. Check for information about fee increases in your contract.
Choosing your own care home
If you are moving into a care or nursing home, you will be given a choice of appropriate homes that charge up to the amount your council will pay.
If you opt for a residential home that charges more than the council pays, you will have to find another way to meet the additional amount. This is called a ‘third party payment’ or ‘top-up’.
Our article Choosing a Care Home contains more information on the types of care homes, and what to look for when choosing one.
Running out of money
Speak to your council if you are worried about running out of money whilst paying for care. If your savings are likely to go under £23,250 through the payment of care fees, they will want to give you a care assessment and financial assessment.
If you believe that you are running out of funds, it’s advisable to let the council know well in advance. This allows you to plan for your care fees together.
Local authorities must conduct an assessment of your needs and financial circumstances. They will then decide if they can contribute towards the cost of your care.
You might want to read our information on third party payments for social care if:
- The council doesn’t already pay for your care but might in the future
- You are living in a care facility that costs more than the council will pay for your needs
- You have a home care service that costs more than the council says it will pay
If one of these applies to you and the council is going to pay towards your care, a third-party payment could help you avoid changing care service or moving to a new care home.
Financial support for care fees
Even if you are paying for all of your care, you may still be eligible for some support with your care fees.
Social care benefits
You could be eligible for social care benefits without the local authority looking into how much you have in savings and capital.
Attendance Allowance (AA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions. AA and PIP are non-means-tested and non-taxable.
There are different rates depending on your level of needs, therefore everyone who needs care should consider claiming these benefits. They will not be paid if the council is already paying for your care in a care home.
If you get the mobility part of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment you will continue to receive this even if you move into a care facility, as a result, these are not included in your financial assessment.
Providing you are over pension age, you may be eligible to receive pension credits. See our article are you claiming your pension credit?
If you are under pension age and have a disability or health condition, you might consider applying for Universal Credit.
What is NHS Nursing Care Contribution?
If you live in a care facility that provides nursing care, you could get a (non-means-tested) Registered Nursing Care Contribution (sometimes called Funded Nursing Care) towards the cost.
Contributions are paid directly to the care facility on your behalf. If you have questions regarding Contributions, you should speak directly to your care home.
Can I get NHS Continuing Healthcare?
NHS Continuing Health Care (NHS CHC) is caring and support fully funded by the NHS. If you have a primary healthcare need, the NHS should provide and pay for all your care including care home fees.
Getting NHS CHC can be difficult as the criteria you must meet are strict. You would need to have severe issues surrounding your health to be eligible for this.
Not everyone who needs care has a primary healthcare need. You won’t automatically be entitled to this funding if you are living with dementia or have an ongoing illness.
You should automatically be offered an NHS CHC Assessment if you have been released from a hospital into a care setting.
Eligibility for NHS CHC depends on an assessment of the nature and complexity of care your needs require.
The NHS will pay for care services in a care home, or if you need healthcare from a community nurse, therapist or personal care at home.
Self-funding your care
Will I have to sell my home to pay for my care?
Twelve-week property disregard
The local authority may share the cost of the first twelve weeks of permanent residential care. The local authority will likely only agree to share costs if part of the value of your home is included in your financial assessment, and your other capital and savings are less than £23,250.
The idea behind this is that it gives you time to sell your home and get the money, however, property sales often take longer than 12 weeks.
How much should you get?
If they are already in a care facility, you should get 12 weeks of the care costs paid. If you are about to enter a facility, they will pay your care bills for the first 12 weeks of your residency.
The amount the local authority will pay can vary region to region, as each area has set rates. Those already in care may still be required to pay a top-up if fees increase.
This money (i.e. the £X per week contribution x 12 weeks) does not have to be repaid to the local authority.
Deferred Payment Agreements
After the twelve-week property disregard period, you may be offered a Deferred Payment Agreement.
Care fees paid by the local authority will be charged against the value of your home and must be repaid once the house is sold, or from your estate. As a result, you should not have to sell your home during your lifetime to pay for your care, whilst
Interest is payable throughout the period of the loan. There is also a one-off fee which covers all legal and admin costs for the lifetime of the agreement.
The local authority may limit the amount of the loan depending on the equity in your property.
If you choose to live in a more expensive care facility than originally offered by the local authority, you will have to pay the difference. These are known as ‘top-up’ or ‘third party payments’.
Care facilities may seek to introduce a top-up fee after you have moved in, however, this must be agreed by the local authority.
This can also happen if a change to your arrangements is made with your agreement, for instance, if you move to a nicer room.
Can I pay my own top-up fees?
You cannot make this additional payment yourself except in limited circumstances due to legislation. The responsibility usually falls to a family member, friend or charity.
Eligibility to pay your own top-up fees applies in one of the following situations:
- you have entered into a 12-week property disregard period
- you have a deferred payment agreement with the council
- your accommodation is being provided under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 as aftercare.
Considering paying someone else’s top-up fees? You should be aware that the amount may increase once a year. You need to be confident that you can afford to pay that individuals fees for as long as they’re required.
Speak to your council if your third-party payments stop for any reason. If this affects your ability to keep paying for the care you’re currently receiving, you may have to move to a cheaper facility within the local authority’s funding levels.
Councils have a duty to offer you a place at a care facility that accepts their funding rates. A top-up should not be charged if no such place is available.
Seeking financial advice
Paying for care can be an expensive and long-term commitment. Professional advice may be helpful in enabling you (and your family) to identify the most suitable and cost-effective solution to paying for care. Some solutions may help you to avoid paying care home fees.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates specialist care fee advisers. These advisors offer advice on products from across the whole market.
The Society of Later Life Advisers website details Independent Financial Advisors. You can also call SOLLA on 0333 202 0454.