Deferred payment agreement
If you don’t have enough money to pay your fees and are finding it difficult to sell your home, or don’t wish to sell your home, you can request a long-term loan known as a ‘deferred payment agreement’ (Northern Ireland excepted).
This means that the council will pay your residential care costs and secure the loan against your property, until you pass away or the property is sold. At this point the loan will be repaid to the local authority. This will all be outlined in an agreement with the council, which you will need to be sign.
In England, all councils are required to offer deferred payments if you meet the following criteria:
- you’re receiving long-term care in a care home or soon will be
- you’re financially assessed as having less than £23,250 in savings, other than the value of their property
- you’re a homeowner and there isn’t anyone else living in the property, such as a spouse, partner, child or a relative aged 60 years or over.
In Wales, you can request a deferred payment if:
- your savings or other assets are less than £40,000 (from 9 April 2018)
- you don’t have other income which is able to meet the costs of their care
- you have a beneficial interest in the property
- there’s no outstanding mortgage, or the outstanding mortgage will leave sufficient money to fund the cost of care.
Local authorities aren’t obliged to offer a deferred payment, but if they don’t, they must give the reason in writing.
Paying interest on the deferred payment agreement
Local authorities are able to charge interest of up to 1.5% (yearly rate, charged daily, 1 January–30 June 2018) on the deferred payment, together with an additional charge for legal costs and administering the payment from the start of the agreement.
Both the interest rate and charge are designed to cover the local authority’s costs in making the loan; they aren't allowed to make a profit from the arrangement.
When the property is sold, the executor of the estate will be liable to repay the debt out of the estate, although they are not themselves personally liable.
Challenging a local authority decision
If you feel you have been unfairly denied a deferred payment, seek clarity from the local authority about the reasons for this, and make a formal complaint if necessary.
12-week property disregard
If you permanently move into a local authority-funded care home in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, have low income and own your own property, the council must ignore the value of the property for the first 12 weeks of your stay (2018–19). After 12 weeks, the value of your property will be counted as part of your capital.
In Scotland, the rules are slightly different; the threshold for savings is £27,250 (2018–19), and although the property owner is entitled to the 12-week disregard unless the property is sold within that time, the disregard period can start from the decision is made that the stay in the care home is permanent (which may be longer than 12 weeks in some circumstances).
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