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Care funding postcode lottery revealed

Where you live could halve the funding you get


Which? research has revealed huge variations in the standard weekly fee that local authorities will pay for residential care.

We submitted freedom of information (FOI) requests to 180 local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and found that the amount you get could be halved, depending on where you live. 

Generally, authorities in London and the south of England gave the highest rates, while the lowest were in the north of England. However, areas that are close to each other can vary widely in care funding, too. In Greater London, we found a difference of £138 for the standard weekly rate for residential care between neighbouring boroughs Bromley (£555) and Croydon (£417).

Local authority care funding

Our research shows around a third (36%) of councils have a maximum standard rate of £434 for personal care, with more than half (53%) giving a maximum of £435 to £539. One in 10 (11%) councils gave a maximum of more than £540. The highest rate we found was Lewisham’s maximum of £768, while Blackburn and Darwen gave us a maximum rate of £357.

Local authority maximum standard weekly rates for residential care
Local authority Maximum Weekly rate (£)
Top 51  
Lewisham London Borough Council 768
Wiltshire County Council 709
Wandsworth London Borough Council 590
Caerphilly County Borough Council 573
Hackney London Borough Council 566
Bottom 5  
Cheshire West & Chester Council 373
Coventry City Council 371
Southampton City Council 369
Sheffield City Council 363
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council 357

Table notes
1 Some authorities gave us a higher average weekly rate where no standard weekly figure applies. Reading Borough Council (700), Camden London Borough Council (649), Sutton London Borough Council (639), Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council (629), Buckinghamshire County Council (624).

Self-funding costs more

Living in a care home can cost up to £1,000 per week and half of residents have part or all of their fees paid by the local authority. Many people top up this contribution themselves, and could face potentially high bills in areas where the local authority pays a lower proportion of the full costs.

We found big differences between the standard rate some councils pay and what the cost would be if you were paying for care yourself, also known as self-funding. In Exeter, for example, the council pays £442 to £471 a week, while the fees we found for self-funders (based on a range of typical self-funder rates taken from those given in the online directory carehome.co.uk) were £300 to £1,200. The variation in costs is partly down to local costs such as wages and property, and partly about individual councils negotiating costs with care homes when they bulk-purchase.

Elderly care help from Which?

Which? Elderly Care is a free website offering practical information and advice about arranging care in the UK, and includes financing options. The site allows you to filter information and care services so you see only what’s relevant to your situation and your postcode.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘Understanding the options available for long-term care can be a minefield, particularly with such huge variations in the funding available. People looking to make difficult decisions about care should use free, independent sources of advice, like Which?, to help them find the information that’s relevant to their situation.’

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