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State funded care

Care Needs Assessment, Financial Assessment & Personal Budget

If you feel you may be eligible for state funded care, the first step to take is to get your local authority to carry out a care needs assessment. This will identify exactly what support and how much help you need. The needs assessment should look at your physical care needs, as well as your mental, emotional, psychological, social, cultural, and religious needs.

See our section Care Needs Assessment for further details.

The local authority will then carry out a financial assessment which is a means test based on national guidelines and calculate how much you must pay towards your care home fees. For further details see section How to fund your care – self-funders v state funded.

If you are eligible for local authority funding, then the local authority will set a personal budget. This comprises of the total cost of meeting your needs, the amount that you must contribute and the outstanding amount that the local authority must pay.

The amount you must pay will include money you receive from most of your benefits, such as State Pension and income you have from any assets. If the local authority does pay your care home fees, then any payments you receive for Attendance

How much will a local authority pay?
There is usually an upper limit on how much a local authority will pay for someone’s residential care costs. This is often called the usual or standard rate. The local authority may give you a list of local care homes and there must offer you at least one care home that is suitable for your care needs.

The best place to search for a care home is as this is the leading online reviews site for care homes and you can read reviews of care homes written by family members, friends and the care home residents themselves.

If there are no places in care homes available at your personal budget level, the local authority should organise a place in more expensive care home and increase your personal budget to cover the additional cost.

If your local authority is currently funding your care and you wish to move to a care home in another county to be closer to family, you can do this and it will still be responsible for paying for your care.

If there are no vacancies in your preferred care home, the local authority should place you on a waiting list for this home and then organise alternative arrangements in the interim period for another care home or care in your home with a high level of care.

How to pay top-up fees
If you or your relative sets their heart on a more expensive care home, the local authority may agree to pay for it, providing a third party, such as a family member, friend or charity pays the extra. You, as the resident, cannot pay this extra amount, which is often referred to as a top-up fee.

Local authorities can only ask for a top-up fee if you refuse a care home that meets your assessed needs and choose a more expensive home instead.

Whoever is paying the top-up fee will have to sign a contract with the local authority agreeing to pay the fee. The agreement will state what will happen if the fees change or if the top-up fees can no longer be paid. The top-up fee can be paid either to the local authority or to the care home. If the top-up fee can no longer be paid, the local authority has the right to move the person to a cheaper care home that meets their assessed needs.

Personal expenses allowance (PEA)

If you are state funded, benefits such as a state pension or a private pension will be paid towards the cost of care. However, you will still need an income each week. This is called the Personal Expenses Allowance and is a set amount that a person should be left with.

In England, this amount is £24.90 per week, and is for personal items such as stationery, birthday cards and toiletries. In Scotland, PEA is £27.75, in Wales it is £29.50 and in Northern Ireland £25.27.

This amount will not be considered by the local authority when it is calculating how much you should contribute towards your care. English local authorities have the discretionary power to increase the personal expenses allowance in special circumstances such as if the resident has property-related expenses or is supporting a spouse.

For detailed advice on care home fees, please contact one of our Featured Advisors listed at the top of this page.

The information on this page was last updated on 25 April 2019. The information does not constitute financial or other professional advice and is general in nature. It does not consider your specific circumstances and should not be acted on without full understanding of your current situation and future goals and objectives by a fully qualified financial advisor. View our terms and conditions.

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How to fund your care – self-funders v state funded




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