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Care home fees

Find out how fees vary across the UK. There are also differences depending on the type of care home you are looking for and your care needs.
4 min read
In this article
What is the average cost of a care home for self-funders? How do care homes structure their fees? Local authority-funded care

What is the average cost of a care home for self-funders?

If you are self-funder, care home fees across the UK are something of a postcode lottery. For example, on average, residential care in a nursing home in Greater London is 44% higher than for a nursing home in the North East.


Care costs in England


Use our cost of care and eligibility tool to find out the average cost of care for a self-funder in either a residential care home or a nursing home in any local authority in England.

Cost of care and eligibility in England
Use our simple tool to find out how much care might cost in England and what financial support is available.

Care costs in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales


We have been unable to include the average fee that a self-funder pays a care home in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in our tool. However, here are the average fees charged for privately- and publicly-funded rooms in for-profit homes for older people and those with dementia (aged 65 and over) for these nations. (Researched by LaingBuisson for its Care of Older People UK market report, 29th edition, published May 2018.)



Cost of nursing


Cost of residential


Northern Ireland £611 £530
Scotland £708 £632
Wales £651 £565


It's important to note that because these figures include the fees that local authorities pay to care homes, fees paid by self-funders are going to be higher that the information we can provide here.

How do care homes structure their fees?

In addition to where you live, the fee you pay also depends on whether your room is single or shared, as well as the level of your needs. For example, a care home is most likely to charge a higher fee for someone who has dementia as the level of care and support that person requires are higher than for a person without dementia.


Residential care home fees are consistently lower to match the lower level of care that is given.


If you’re thinking about choosing a care home, use our care services directory, where you can search for care homes across the UK.

Care homes near you
Use our directory to find local residential and nursing care homes across the UK.

Local authority-funded care

Fewer than half of people in a care home (an estimated 41%) are fully self-funded, so don’t assume that you’ll necessarily be paying all of your own fees. We explain when local authorities pay the fees for a care home and when the NHS might step in in paying for a care home.


Local authorities should pay a realistic amount that will provide you with the care you need, as outlined on your care plan. However, it stands to reason that they will be looking to do this in the most cost-effective way.


Councils have a standard rate (also called the 'usual cost') that they are usually prepared to pay for care. They will have different rates to cater for people needing different levels of care – for example, in a care home with personal care only, or in a care home with nursing. 


If you’re arranging residential care for someone who has dementia, know that the local authority won't always pay more to a care home to cover their needs. This will have implications if you are arranging care for a loved one and considering paying a third-party top-up fee.


What happens if I move to a different part of the country?

It’s important to know that if you move to another part of the country, the fee you’re assessed as needing by your local authority will remain the same regardless of where you move to.

If you’re assessed as being eligible for financial support, the social services department of your local authority should offer you a choice of care homes that will meet your care needs and accept residents funded by a local authority.


The amount of money that a local authority pays a care home varies widely across the country. It’s important to know that if you move to another part of the country, the fee you’re assessed as needing by your local authority will remain the same regardless of where you move to.


So if, say, you’re assessed by a local authority in the North East of England, where local authorities pay some of the lowest rates in the UK, and you move to be near a loved one in, say, London (the highest rates in the UK), you might find it difficult to find a care home that will accept such a low fee, unless you fit into any of the exceptions explained below. In this instance, you might have to consider a family member of friend taking on a third-party top-up fee.

When might a local authority increase the fee they pay a care home?

There are a few circumstances when the local authority may increase the amount it’s prepared to pay.


These circumstances relate to your assessed needs, so it’s important to be aware of these when the needs assessment is being made. Some exceptions are if:

  • you need to move to a more expensive area, to be nearer your family
  • you have particular care needs that can only be accommodated in a more expensive care home; examples of this are specific cultural or religious needs or hearing or visual impairment
  • the council can only offer one care home in the area that meets your needs and that home charges more than the fee the local authority is willing to pay
  • you were a self-funder but have become local authority-funded and can’t be moved because of psychological needs, such as anxiety or depression, as well as physical frailty and issues around wellbeing.

Further reading

Paying for a care home

We explain options for paying for a care home, from local authority support to paying yourself, known as self-funding, ...

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.

Last updated: 19 Sep 2018