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What affects cost?

We’re here to help you understand how care is funded

Find a care home

The cost of care is one of the main worries for people looking for a care home for themselves or a loved one

Understanding how care is funded

Your loved one’s financial situation and their needs will affect what they’re entitled to. We’re here to help explain care funding, including what’s involved and who decides what. And remember, if you have any questions our team is always available to help.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be responsible for paying some or all of your care home costs. It is also possible that the NHS or your local authority will cover some or all of the fees.

Your needs, and any funding assistance you’re entitled to, will be decided by free care needs and financial assessments. These are available from your local authority (contact your local social services department). Care UK can also do a needs assessment for you and arrange a financial assessment.

We recommend that you discuss your funding options with a financial adviser who will take your individual situation into account and give you tailored advice. 

Learn more about:

Any savings (including shares and investments), income (including a pension) or property that you own will affect whether you are entitled to any funding from your local authority.

You are likely to have to pay the full cost of your accommodation and personal care yourself if you have capital of over:

  • £23,250 in England
  • £24,000 in Wales
  • £27,250 in Scotland

Even if you think you’re likely to need to fund all your care yourself, it’s important to have a needs assessment and a financial assessment done. These will help you to clarify what kind of care you need (e.g. personal care, nursing care) and any support – including any benefits – that you or your family may be entitled to.

Care homes price their services differently, so it’s important to check what the fees of your chosen care home will cover and what will be charged as an extra cost – ask for their pricing policy if you haven’t been given it. It may be that entertainment, hairdressing and additional wellbeing services may be extra.

If you’re likely to be funding the majority of your care we recommend talking to a financial adviser as you’ll need to know that you’ll have the resources to fund your care in the longer term.

Having completed a financial assessment with your local authority, if your capital falls below the limits above, you will receive local authority contributions towards the cost of your care. If you think this is a likely scenario, check in advance that your preferred care home would accept local authority funding if it became necessary.

The Money Advice Service has a useful page on funding your own care.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, NHS continuing healthcare is available for people with severe or complex health needs and it may cover all of a person’s care home fees.

NHS staff will undertake an assessment of your needs to determine whether you have a primary healthcare need that is best treated outside hospital (dementia is an example of this). You will need to have regular assessments to determine whether you continue to receive this type of funding.

Scotland has different care arrangements, called Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care, which is only available to people in hospital.

For more about Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care in Scotland

Find out more about NHS funding.

Depending on your situation, your local authority may meet some, or all, of your care costs.

You’ll need to contact your local council to organise a needs assessment to confirm that you require care. Once this has confirmed that you need care, the local authority will undertake a financial assessment to decide how much they will contribute towards your care. These assessments are free.

If you are eligible for local authority funding, your local authority must ensure you have a genuine choice about where you live. Local authorities run their own homes and have arrangements with independent care home providers – like Care UK – that will provide care at the local authority’s agreed rate.

You should be able to live in the care home of your choice if:

  • It is suitable for your assessed needs.
  • There is accommodation available and it satisfies the local authority’s usual terms and conditions.
  • It doesn’t cost more than the local authority would normally pay for someone with your assessed needs.

If your local authority says that your chosen home is too expensive for your level of need, they may not cover your full costs. In that case, if possible, a relative or other source of funding (a charity or benevolent fund) can make up the difference as a top up (also referred to as ‘additional charges’ or ‘lifestyle choice’ in Scotland).

In Scotland, some independent care homes may charge you a private rate, higher than the local council’s standard rate, for at least the first two years of your care. After that you may be able to pay the standard rate, depending on your level of capital.

Read more on local authority funding.

The benefits you’re entitled to can change when you move into a care home on a permanent basis.

  • If your local authority or the NHS is contributing towards your care, your attendance allowance is likely to stop (in Scotland it will stop after you have been in a care home for four weeks). If you’re paying for your own care, it is likely to continue.
  • The same applies to the care component of the disability living allowance. If these stop, so too will any carer’s allowance that is paid to anyone who currently looks after you.
  • Any housing and council tax benefits you’re receiving are also likely to stop when you move into a care home. Anyone still living in your home will need to claim any benefits in their own name.

If you’re self-funding, some insurers offer immediate care insurance that will give you a fixed payment for as long as you need care. This can help to protect your other assets, such as a property. Again, a financial adviser who specialises in care fees planning will be able to help you.

The Scottish Executive has a helpful guide about moving into a care home

Organisations such as Age UK and Age UK ScotlandAlzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland provide information, support and – in some cases – financial advice to help you work out what benefits you’re still entitled to when you move to a care home.

The Government’s 2021 Vision for Adult Social Care means that from October 2025, they will introduce a new £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care.
This means that even where someone has significant assets, and is self-funding their care plan, they will not need to spend more than £86,000 on their personal care over their lifetime. The cap also applies to domiciliary care.

Personal care means the residential care, nursing care and support needed, whether it’s with washing, dressing, mealtime assistance or managing health problems.
There are several aspects of the care home service that are not classed as personal care – this includes accommodation, food, energy bills, lifestyle and wellbeing and consumables.

Read more about the proposed cap on care costs.

You may wish to put decisions about your finances and/or health and care into the hands of family members or professionals who you trust. In this case you can set up a power of attorney. There are different forms of these depending on whether you are in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If you were to become unable to make decisions about your own affairs, and you don’t have a valid power of attorney in place, the only legal way for another person to make decisions on your behalf is through a Deputyship (England and Wales), a Guardianship (Scotland), or to become a Controller (Northern Ireland).

LPAs can be appointed through the Office of the Public Guardian and the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland.

Support from charities

There are many charities offering support to people who need social care. Organisations such as Age UK and Mencap do a great job in providing information, support and – in some cases – financial advice. You can find out what organisations are offering help in our list of sources in other information and support.