Whats in this section?
Whats in this section?
Financial assessment for social care
You will be offered a financial assessment if you’ve already had a care needs assessment, and have social care needs that are eligible for support from your council. 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 the cost of care at home or in a care home, depending on your circumstances.
Is my home included?
If you’re moving into residential care your home’s value will be included as part of your capital in the social care financial assessment. Should you be receiving care in your own home, its value will not be included.
How much do I have to pay for care?
If you haven’t completed a financial care assessment, you will be responsible for paying the full cost of your care and support.
You may be asked to contribute part of your income if your income, capital and savings are less than £14,250, and the local authority may pay the rest.
If you have income, capital and savings between £14,250 and £23,250, you are likely to have to contribute towards the cost of your care. You may need to contribute part of your income. If you have capital and savings above £14,250, you would usually be asked to pay £1 for each £250.
If your capital and savings amount to more than £23,250, you will probably have to pay the full cost of care yourself.
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 would pay.
Should 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’.
Personal Care budgets?
Your personal care budget influences how much the local authority must contribute to your care, the amount is decided by your care assessment.
The local authority must make sure your personal budget is high enough for you to get the care you need according to the care needs assessment they carried out.
Their assessment must consider what your care and support needs are and the impact of these on your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Even if your personal budget isn’t high enough to pay for a care home to cover your care needs, your relative should not be asked to pay a top-up fee.
Instead, the council must increase its contribution to your personal budget to cover the extra costs. For 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.
Running out of money
Speak to your council if you are worried about running out of money due to paying for care. They will want to give you a care assessment and a financial assessment if your savings are likely to go under £23,250 through the payment of care fees.
You should let the council know well in advance so that you can plan for your care fees together. Bear in mind that local authorities must undertake an assessment of your needs and financial circumstances before deciding 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 the council is going to pay towards your care and one of these applies to you, a third-party payment may help you avoid changing care service or moving to a new care home.
Understanding your rights before moving into care is essential. There are financial products and specialist companies that may be able to help.
You should look at getting financial and legal advice before you decide on how to fund your care.
Financial support for care fees
You may be able to get some support with your care fees even if you are paying for all of your care.
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 and are non-means-tested and non-taxable.
There are different rates depending on the level of your needs. Everyone who needs care should consider claiming these benefits. However, they will not be paid if the council is paying for your care in a care home.
If you get the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment you will continue to receive this even if you move into a care facility, it is 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? for more info.
If you are under pension age you may want to apply for Universal Credit, if you have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to work.
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.
The contribution is paid directly to the care facility on your behalf and as such, you should speak to them directly about getting this.
Can I get NHS Continuing Healthcare?
NHS Continuing Health Care (NHS CHC) is fully funded care and support provided and paid for 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 because 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, intensity and complexity of the care required to manage your needs.
The NHS will pay for care services in a care home, or if you need healthcare from a community nurse, therapist or personal care to help 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, provided 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, though in practice 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. A top may still be required if somebody is already in care.
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.
This means you shouldn’t have to sell your home during your lifetime to pay for your care. 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.
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.
Third party payments
If you choose to live in a more expensive care facility than originally offered by the local authority, you will need to find a way to pay the difference, these are referred to as ‘top-up’ or ‘third party payments’.
Care facilities may seek to introduce a top-up fee after you have moved in. This would need to be agreed first with the local authority.
This can also happen if a change to your arrangements is made with your agreement, such as if you move to a nicer room.
Can I pay my own top-up fees?
You are not allowed to make this additional payment yourself except in limited circumstances due to legislation. The responsibility usually falls to a family member, friend or charity.
It’s possible to pay your own top-up fees 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.
If you are thinking of paying someone else’s top-up fees you should be aware that the amount may increase, usually once a year. You must be confident that you can afford the top-up fees for as long as they are required.
If these third-party payments stop being paid for any reason speak to your council. Should this affect 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.
Specialist care fee advisers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and can offer advice on products from across the whole market, and unlike advisors are not tied to particular providers.
A list of Independent Financial Advisors can be found on the Society of Later Life Advisers website. You can also call SOLLA on 0333 202 0454.