Local authority funding
Local authorities will only pay for respite care for people who they have assessed as needing it following an assessment. This can be a needs assessment for the person who needs the care, or a carer's assessment for the person who is doing the caring.
- Needs assessment: a free assessment from the local authority to assess the level of care and support that the person you care for requires. It should include assessing their needs for respite care. It should also consider the needs and views of any carers. If the person you’re caring for has already had a needs assessment, then they can have a review of the assessment if the last one was a while ago or if their circumstances have changed.
- Carer’s assessment: as a carer you’re entitled to a separate assessment. This looks at the caring arrangement from your perspective and should consider your needs relating to your health, work, learning, leisure and family. It should also take into account whether you’re willing and able to continue in your caring role. If not, it should look at alternative methods of care.
Following an assessment, if the local authority decides that respite care is needed, they might contribute towards the cost of it. However, the level of funding that a person receives depends on their own financial situation. This will be determined by a financial test, which differs depending on whether your loved one is receiving care at home or in a care home.
Local authority funding for respite care in a care home
The local authority should contribute towards the cost of respite care in a care home if:
- the needs assessment shows that respite care in a care home in necessary, and
- the financial assessment (which differs throughout the four countries of the UK) shows that the person you’re caring for is eligible for local authority funding.
‘Temporary’ stays in a care home can be for up to 52 weeks. If eligible, the local authority may apply the funding immediately, or they may ask the person who needs care to pay a ‘reasonable amount’ (which isn’t defined and will vary on your and your local authority’s circumstances) for the first eight weeks, then apply the financial assessment.
The financial assessment for respite care in a care home is similar to that used for permanent care in a care home. The local authority will use the same upper and lower limits when assessing capital (see local authority funding for a care home), but they will ignore:
- the value of the cared-for person’s home as they intend to return to live there
- some of the cared-for person’s income, so that they can continue to pay bills at home, such as council tax, water rates and insurance
- any Housing Benefit and the housing cost element in Pension Credit or Universal Credit.
Local authority funding for respite care at home
The local authority should contribute towards the cost of respite care at home if:
- the needs assessment or carer’s assessment shows that respite care at home is necessary, and
- the financial assessment (which differs throughout the nations) shows that the cared-for person is eligible for local authority funding.
The local authority might provide services directly, or you can request a direct payment or personal budget to purchase assessed services from the provider of your choice. Our page about personal budgets and direct payments gives more information.
- Some charities, such as the Royal Voluntary Society (RVS) offer low-cost respite care. They might run subsidised day centres or help at home.
- Some charitable organisations, such as Revitalise, offer subsidised holidays for elderly or disabled people.
- The charity Turn2us can help to find charitable grants available to those in financial need.
Self-funding respite care
If other funding isn’t available, the person you care for may have to fund their own respite care. You might be able to raise the necessary money from:
- income: from pensions, work, investments or property
- benefits, such as Attendance Allowance.
See also our guidance on paying for home care.
If you are feeling financial pressure as a result of caring for a loved one, read our guide to Benefits for carers to find out if you would be eligible for financial support as a carer.
The importance of planning ahead, how to access local authority respite care and choosing respite care.
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