Cost of care

Cost of care

Paying for care yourself: everything you need to know.

For people and their families that are considering care options, the financial implications and the ongoing cost of care can be a major worry. Looking after a loved one in the right way should be about their individual needs being met and a good quality of life.

Unfortunately, the government provision for care can vary according to where you live but very rarely do any provide the kind of care that loved ones want for their relatives and friends. For most people, there is a need to pay for at least some additional care support to provide the quality of life that we feel our loved ones deserve. When looking at care costs, making comparisons of the type of care you or your loved one will receive is important. You should weigh up the outcomes of care, beyond simply providing tasks, to considering the person’s safety, their need for companionship, assistance with hobbies and taking into account shared interests.

Some care options can be perceived as expensive, but it doesn’t mean they all are. When it comes to planning the right care for you, it is worth considering the funding routes and benefits that may be available to help you.

For example, care may be funded in full or part by your local authority depending on individual circumstances. It is therefore important and worth exploring the funding options available before making a final decision.

How does paying for care work?

Care at home arranged by your local council isn’t usually free. In order to arrange social care you need to first get a care needs assessment.

After you’ve had the care needs assessment, and you’ve an agreed care and support plan, there will be a financial assessment, also known as a means test. This is where your local council will ask about your finances and income to work out how much you will contribute to your care.

What does the means test involve?

The means test is when the local council looks at your income, savings and property to calculate how much you need to contribute towards the cost of your care and support.

If you need care in order to stay in your own home, the means test won’t include the value of your property.

If you need to move permanently into a care home, the test may include the value of your property.

Here’s how the means test for social care will look at your income and savings, and how this will affect what you pay for care.

Your capital What you will have to pay 
Over £23,250You must pay full fees (known as being self-funding).
Between £14,250 and £23,250The local council will fund some of your care and you’ll contribute to the rest.
Less than £14,250This will be ignored and won’t be included in the means test – the local council will pay for your care. However, they will still take your eligible income into account.

Certain types of income, such as money from certain disability benefits and pensions, may not be counted in the means test. This is the same for certain types of capital. All other income and capital can be taken into account.

If all your eligible income is taken into account in your means test, you must be left with an income of £189.00 per week, if you’re single and above Pension Credit qualifying age. This is known as the Minimum Income Guarantee.

Local authority support

If you need support with day-to-day tasks, your local authority might be able to help with the costs of care.

As a first step, it is a good idea to request a needs assessment before arranging care. This will help you decide on the level of care needed and if care at home is suitable for you.

If an assessment identifies that you need help, funding support available varies depending on your particular circumstances. One of the most common options available to you is to receive direct payments for the cost of the funded element from the council and organise your care yourself.

You do not have to contact your local authority if you will be paying for care yourself.

Alternative funding support

Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to.

Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people over State Pension age who need extra help to stay independent at home, due to an illness or disability.

– If you’re under State Pension age, you may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment instead

– If you have a carer, they could be eligible for Carer’s Allowance.

These benefits aren’t means-tested, so don’t take into account your income and savings.