Will your local authority pay for your care?
Do local authorities have any obligations to pay for your care?
Who is going to pay for your care?
This is a question everyone seems to be asking these days but there doesn’t always seem to be a clear answer.
It can feel like a bit of a lottery. You could end up sitting in a care home paying upwards of £600 a week for accommodation yet the person next to you is getting their care fees paid for by the state.
According to recent figures, about 56% of over 65-year-olds living in care homes are paying for all or some of their care. So why do some people have to pay for their care and others don’t? What are the obligations of local authorities with regard to social care funding?
What you will find in this article?- 5 Tips on local authority funded care
Rules on who will pay for your care
The Care Act 2014 brought in rules about what local authorities should do to provide people who need care with support. The first obligation of a local authority is to assess a person’s care needs if they appear to need help. The problem is many people who go through the assessment process feel their local authority is only interested in looking at their finances. In fact, the duty of a local authority is to assess a person’s care needs regardless of whether that person is likely to be eligible for state-funded care.
Tip 1. Don’t be pressurized into giving information about your finances
You don’t have to give any information about your finances or the value of your property during the care assessment stage. The first role of the local authority is to work out what care needs you have. The local authority should arrange for trained specialists to look at how you cope with day-to-day activities such as walking and feeding yourself. The assessment is intended to find out how many ‘care outcomes’ you need help with, for example, help to eat or drink or get washed.
Following a care assessment, your local authority is supposed to let you know what services it is able to supply to you or help you to arrange from a third party. You will only be eligible to receive care support through your local authority if you meet all of the following criteria:
- you have physical or mental needs
- you suffer from an illness
- your well-being is affected by your care needs
- you are not able to achieve at least two care outcomes e.g feeding and washing.
Free local authority services
A care plan will be prepared setting out the support you can receive. Some support is provided for free by local authorities but a lot of the services are chargeable. The question then arises of who is going to be responsible for paying for those services that are not free. It’s only at this stage that you should be asked to supply financial details.
Tip number 2 is about declaring your assets…
So how does the assessment process work? You will be provided with a financial means assessment form that asks a lot of questions about money and assets. It’s worth taking your time over completing the means assessment form and think carefully about your assets. You must be truthful about the information you supply but people often give more information than is strictly necessary.
Tip 2. Only your assets and finances should be assessed
Your local authority is not entitled to assess the finances of members of your family. Don’t feel you must include information about your spouse or civil partner’s finances and property.
Get a clear idea in your own mind about what assets are yours before starting to fill out the form. If you own assets jointly with a spouse or civil partner you only need to provide the value of your share of those assets. That value won’t necessarily be your share of the market value of the whole asset.
A half share of a property can’t easily be sold without the consent of the other co-owner; that reduces its value.
Tip 3. Your property will not always be included in an assessment of your capital
The biggest fear that many people have about paying for care is that their property will have to be sold. In fact, not everyone’s property is included in their financial assessment. Local authorities have an obligation to disregard the value of a person’s home in certain situations.
Your property will be disregarded if your care needs can be supported in your own home.
If your property is the home of your spouse or civil partner, or an adult child over 60 years or someone who is a dependant or a child the property must be disregarded for means-testing purposes.
Tip 4. Some services must be provided free by local authorities
There are some services that local authorities must provide free of charge. If your care needs could be managed at your home with the help of some minor adaptations or through reablement services or equipment that support is free.
Tip 5. You might be eligible for free care even if you are above the capital limits
A local authority is not permitted to supply care services or charge a person for care services if that person should be receiving that support from another organisation such as the NHS.
The Care and Support Assessment Regulations state that:
“Where it appears to a local authority carrying out a needs assessment that the individual
to whom the assessment relates may be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, the local
authority must refer the individual to the relevant body.”
This is a really important issue. There are many accounts of people not being informed about their right to be assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare and therefore paying local authorities for their care because the professionals assessing them have assumed they would not qualify for NHS CHC.
You can read more about NHS Continuing Healthcare by clicking on the links below.
What else do you need to think about when considering who will pay for your care?
It’s a good idea to plan your approach to later life care. There are lots of useful steps you can take, like making Lasting Powers of Attorney. You can also protect assets from the cost of care by including special arrangements in your Will, so making a Will or reviewing an existing Will are both key parts of care planning.