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Care home costs across the UK in 2019

Anyone who has looked for a care home knows how expensive they can be. In 2018-19 fees rose by almost 5%, the biggest hike in 10 years. But fees vary depending on where you live and the level of care needed.
4 min read
In this article
The rising cost of care homes The care homes postcode lottery  Find the cost of care where you live
How later-life care is paid for What is the government’s position?

The rising cost of care homes

The average cost of a residential care home for an older person in the UK increased to £651 a week in 2018-19. Or, put another way, the average cost hit £33,852 a year.

According to research by LaingBuisson, average fees in 2018-19 were almost 5% higher than the previous year, when the average was £622 a week.

And for those who need a nursing home – a care home with round-the-clock nursing care – the costs are even greater. The average cost of a nursing home in 2018-19 was £893 a week, or £46,436 a year: a 4.3% rise on the previous year.

Care home fees have been rising at above-inflationary rates for most of the past decade. The UK inflation rate hovered around 2% at the end of 2018-19, but care home fees increased at more than double that rate (4.7%). This was the largest annual hike in care home fees in 10 years.

Average UK weekly care home & nursing home fees

Year ending

31 March 

Care

homes

Annual

increase

Nursing

homes

Annual

increase

2010 £481 5.9% £678 3.0%
2011 £502 4.4% £691 1.9%
2012 £521 3.8% £705 2.0%
2013 £539 3.5% £722 2.4%
2014 £556 3.2% £737 2.1%
2015 £562 1.1% £762 3.4%
2016 £580 3.2% £787 3.3%
2017 £608 3.8% £829 5.3%
2018 £622 2.3% £856 3.3%
2019 £651 4.7% £893 4.3%

Source: Care Homes for Older People, UK Market Report, LaingBuisson

The fees shown here are averages for the whole market. That means they combine the fees that local authorities pay to care homes and the fees paid by self-funders. Because self-funders typically pay more for a care home than a local authority will – more than 30% more on average – self-funders will usually face even higher costs than the averages quoted here.

The care homes postcode lottery 

The average UK rates tell only part of the story. There are also major regional differences across the UK, which means that where you live has a big impact on the cost of your care.

The average cost of a residential care home in 2018-19 ranged from £539 a week in Northern Ireland to £769 in Scotland. That’s a difference of £230 a week, or almost £12,000 a year. For nursing homes, average fees ranged from £706 a week in Northern Ireland to £937 in England.

Where you live has a big impact on the cost of your care.

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But it’s not just a question of which country you live in. Fees can vary from one county to another, and even from one local authority area to another. Within England, average fees in London, the south and the East of England are considerably higher than costs in the north. For example, a care home in the South East averaged £783 a week (without nursing care), while the equivalent charge in the North West was £547 – a striking difference of £12,272 a year.

Read more about how care home fees are calculated.

Find the cost of care where you live

If you live in England, our cost of care and eligibility calculator can quickly tell you how much care costs where you live, and whether you would be eligible for local authority support. You’ll also find practical advice on your next steps.

Use our calculator to find out the cost of a care home in your area and what financial support is available.

For more information about costs in other parts of the UK, see Care home fees.

How later-life care is paid for

While healthcare is provided free by the NHS, most of us will have to pay some or all of the costs of our own social care in later life.

Local authorities provide financial support for people whose assets and income are below a set amount, but the rules can be complicated, and different thresholds apply in different parts of the UK. And even if you do qualify for council support, you may still have to contribute some of your income towards the costs.

Our practical guide to paying for a care home cuts through the confusion, explaining the main options for funding care in the UK.

What is the government’s position?

The rising cost of care in later life is one of the biggest financial challenges facing many people in the UK.

The current government says that reforming the way social care is paid for is one of its major priorities. The government has pledged to introduce legislation to ‘fix the system’, although no concrete proposals or timeframe have yet been released.

In March 2017 the previous government promised to publish a green paper to explore the issue of how social care is funded, but this was repeatedly postponed and still has not been published.

Further reading

Self-funding a care home

We explain how you can pay for your care, what happens if your money runs out and getting financial advice.

Deferred payment agreements

You can request a deferred payment agreement from the council if you’re struggling to pay care home fees.

Last updated: 30 Jan 2020