The financial assessment explained
If you’re looking at arranging help at home, home adaptations or residential care, such as a nursing home or care home, then you may have questions about how to pay for it. We know this is a complex process, so we'll take you through it step-by-step.
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.
Find your local council
Your local council's adult social services department will carry out a free assessment of your care needs.
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 will usually include the value of your property.
How will my income be treated in the means test?
Certain types of income, such as money from certain disability benefits and pensions, may not be counted in the means test. All other income can be taken into account.
In some cases, the local council may also assume that your capital generates an income, which will also be taken into account.
Make sure you get all of your benefits and entitlements. That’s because the means test will assume you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, even if you aren't already claiming them.
If you and someone else jointly hold capital, such as a savings account, it’ll be treated as divided equally between the two of you.
Will I have to sell my home to pay for care?
Many people worry that they will have to sell their home to pay for social care. Find out how your property will be valued and in what situations it may not have to be included in the means test.
What if I give away some of my money?
You may think about giving away some of your savings, income or property to avoid paying likely care costs, and to give something to your relatives or charity, for example.
If the council thinks that you have done this to avoid paying care fees they may still assess you as if you still had the money or property that you have given away. This is referred to as deprivation of assets.
How much will I have to pay?
After the means test the local council should give you a written record of their decision of what you will have to pay and what they will pay, and how they calculated it.
How much you will have to pay will depend on:
- what type of care and support you need.
- the area you live in (as costs may vary across the country).
- your own personal circumstances.
If you’re going into a care home, you should not be left with less than £24.90 a week after any contribution to your fees. This is known as your Personal Expenses Allowance.
If you’re getting some home adaptations, paying for these depends on what type of adaptations or equipment you need.
We're here to help
We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 055 6112. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.