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Paying for home care

We explain the options for paying for care at home, from local authority support to paying for it yourself, known as self-funding.
3 min read
In this article
How is care at home paid for? When will the local authority pay for care? When will you be a self-funder?
When will the NHS contribute to the cost of care at home?

How is care at home paid for?

Care at home is paid for in the following ways in the UK:

  • The local authority funds some or all of the care.
  • Self-funding: the person being cared for (or their family) pays all the costs for their care.
  • In some circumstances, the NHS may contribute to the cost of some or all of the care.

When will the local authority pay for care?

To decide if you are eligible for financial support for care, the local authority will first carry out a free needs assessment.

If you’re assessed as having ‘eligible needs’, the council will then carry out a financial assessment to work out how much you should contribute to the cost of your care. There are thresholds for savings and assets above which you will need to pay for care. The upper limits in 2019-20 are:

  • In England: £23,250
  • In Wales: £24,000
  • In Northern Ireland and Scotland: there is no financial assessment for care at home as all personal care is paid for by the state.

To decide if you’re eligible for financial support for care, the local authority will first carry out a free needs assessment.

We explain more about the financial assessment in local authority funding for home care.

Use our calculator to find out how much you might pay a home care agency in your area and what financial support is available.

When will you be a self-funder?

 

You’ll have to pay for your own care at home if you:

  • have savings and assets in excess of the capital limits for care

  • don’t qualify for council funding because your needs weren’t found to be sufficient following a needs assessment.


Even if you choose not to apply for financial support, it can be beneficial to get the needs assessment done because the social services will be able to explain the range of services available to meet your needs. For example, even if you aren’t eligible for funding, you could still have services arranged by the local authority (although you would be charged the full price of the care). It could also be important if your needs should change in the future.

 

There are several ways that you might raise money to help pay for your care:

  • Income: from pensions, work, investments or property.
  • Attendance Allowance, which isn’t means tested.
  • Financial help from family or friends.

You might also want to consider:

  • Downsizing: selling your current home and buying a smaller one could give you a lump sum to help pay for care.
  • Letting a room: if you have enough space, you might consider letting a room to a lodger. This can help raise extra money without the need to move house.
  • Equity release: if you own your home, you might be able to use an equity release scheme to ‘unlock’ cash from the value of your property.


Whichever option you consider, seek advice from a specialist accredited later life adviser who is a fully listed member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA). For more guidance on finding an IFA, see how to find a financial adviser on the Which? Money website.

 

When will the NHS contribute to the cost of care at home?

 

The NHS will pay all care costs at home under certain circumstances. NHS Continuing Healthcare funds people who need ongoing health care outside of hospital if they have complex medical care needs due to disability, accident or a major illness. This funding isn’t means tested.

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Further reading

Home care fees

Home care fees can vary according to where you live in the UK and the type of care you need.

Last updated: 10 May 2019