Once you have been assessed as needing care, the council will then make a financial assessment (means test) to decide whether you qualify for assistance with your care home fees.
The financial assessment (means-test)
If your needs assessment has shown that you need to live in a care home and your capital is below £23,250, you should be entitled to financial support from the council. If you have below £14,250, you will get maximum support although you will still contribute your income (pension etc.) less £23.50 per week (£24.00 in Wales) to keep for your personal expenses while living in the care home. If your capital is between £14,250 and £23,250, you will contribute £1 per week for each £250 of capital between these two figures. (The above capital thresholds apply in England and Northern Ireland. Scotland: £24,750/£15,250. Wales £23,250/23,250.)
Your “capital” includes your savings and any assets, and it can include the value of your former home unless it is “disregarded”. The value of your home will not be counted (will be disregarded) if:
- your stay in the care home is temporary or
- your former home is still occupied by your partner, or a relative who is over the age of 60 or who is incapacitated, or a child under 16 who is dependent on you or a separated partner who is a lone parent.
Read more about:
Choice and third party “top-ups”
It is up to you to choose your care home whether or not the council is contributing to your care fees. If the council is paying, the home must be able to meet your assessed care needs, it must comply with terms and standards set by the council, and it should not cost more than the council usually pays for someone with your needs.
Councils vary in how much they pay. If the home you choose is more expensive than the council’s usual rate, you are allowed to get someone else to make up the difference or “top up” but the council will want to check that they can afford to pay the “top up” throughout your stay at the care home. You will not be allowed to use your own capital if it’s below the means test limit.
Only the partner requiring care should be means tested. If your former home is occupied by your partner, it is disregarded, and, if you are married, only half your private pension should normally be taken into account. The council has the discretion whether to apply this rule if you are unmarried but they also have the discretion to increase your personal expenses allowance if it’s necessary to support your partner at home.
Where savings are held jointly, the local authority will take into account only the 50% of the person needing care. If you do hold savings jointly, it is sensible to separate them in order to bring forward the threshold when council funding becomes available, and so that you are not running down your partners savings as well as your own.