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Paying for homecare

Care services at home aren’t usually free. How much pay for homecare depends on a number of factors, including your income and savings. Find out how to arrange homecare, how much you may have to pay and the financial support available.

How do I access homecare?

If you’re having trouble with everyday tasks such as washing, cooking and getting dressed, ask your local council for a care needs assessment. This helps to work out what would help you stay independent at home for longer. Your carer, GP, or district nurse can make a referral for an assessment on your behalf with your permission.

If you’re being discharged from hospital, the staff on your ward can arrange homecare services to make sure you’re safe and properly supported at home, or to help rehabilitate you. A social worker should lead the planning of your future care and support with you.

Find out more about how to access home care after hospital discharge

Will the local council pay for my homecare?

If your local council carries out a care needs assessment and agrees you have eligible needs for care and support at home, they will do a means test. This will take into account your income and savings. Unless you’re going into a care home, this won’t take into account 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 £23,250 You must pay full fees (known as being self-funding).
Between £14,250 and £23,250 The local council will fund some of your care and you'll contribute to the rest.
Less than £14,250 This 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.

If you’re eligible for financial support to pay for homecare, your local council can arrange homecare services for you. Alternatively you can choose to receive direct payments and arrange homecare yourself.

Find out more about paying for care using direct payments

How much does it cost to pay for my own homecare?

If you’re paying fees yourself (called self-funding), then you will arrange and pay for your own care, but your local council should provide advice to support you.

Costs for homecare vary across the country, but average around £15 per hour. You can use this cost of care and eligibility in England tool to get an estimate for care costs in your area.

To find a homecare agency:

  • The UK Home Care Association can give you details of home care providers that follow its code of practice.
  • Your local adult social services department should be able to provide you with details of approved private agencies.
  • Ask friends or relatives for recommendations.

Can I get financial support to pay for my homecare?

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

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

Frequently asked questions

Can I employ my own carer?

If you want to employ a care worker directly, you must draw up a contract of employment so that you are both clear on what is expected. Be aware of financial considerations such as National Insurance contributions.

Find out more about directly employing a carer from the HMRC

New pension rules mean that if you employ your own carer using either your own money or money from your direct payment, you may now be legally obliged to contribute towards a pension for them.

You may need to take this into account if you decide to hire a carer or carers directly and you pay them more than £768 every four weeks (£10,000 per year). If you use a payroll service they may help you with these new duties.

Take a look at The Pensions Regulator’s Duties checker for more help

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What if I’m running out of money?

If you’re paying fees yourself (called self-funding) and your capital reaches less than £23,250, the local council may assist with funding. You should request an assessment a few months before that happens as they will have to agree you need a care home.

They should arrange one as soon as possible so you don’t have to use up your capital below that amount.

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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.

Find out more about deprivation of assets

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We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Feb 06 2020

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