At the moment, our information about paying for care services applies to England only. We are updating our information to make it relevant for people living in Scotland and Wales. In the meantime, please visit Age Scotland or Age Cymru.
Residential care can be expensive, so it’s important to check you’re getting any help you’re entitled to. This usually starts with a care needs assessment by your local council, followed by a financial assessment.
What is a financial assessment?
The financial assessment (or means test) works out how much you’ll have to pay towards the cost of your care. It’s carried out by your local council. It is separate to the care needs assessment which looks at what your care needs are, such as a need for residential care.
The financial assessment will consider:
your income, including pensions and benefits
your capital, including savings.
It may include the value of your home if you own it, but this isn't always taken into consideration. This is different to the rules about paying for care services at home.
What you'll have to pay
Care Costs Calculator
Care home fees are complicated, so we’ve partnered with Legal & General to provide a care costs
calculator for people planning to move into a care home. This is to give you an idea of whether you
might qualify for care funding from your local council, and how much care in your area may cost.
You can call our free Helpline on
0800 319 6789
for more personalised advice.
To get any help from the council, regardless of your finances, you must first have a care needs
assessment. The council will only help you if they assess you as needing to move into a care home.
Nearly everyone will have to contribute something towards their care home fees. The council works out how much you'd pay by looking at:
Capital includes money or items that have a financial value, for example, savings, investments, land and property.
In England, if you have capital:
over £23,250 – you’ll have to pay all your care home fees until your capital drops below this amount
between £14,250–£23,250 – you'll have to contribute most of your weekly income towards your care home fees. You'll also pay an assumed extra income of £1 per week for every £250 of capital you have between these two amounts
under £14,250 – you won’t have to use this to pay your care home fees. You’ll still have to contribute most of your weekly income.
If the local council is paying towards your care, you will usually have to contribute most of your income, apart from a small Personal Expenses Allowance. This is currently £25.65 a week in England. You might also receive £5.90 a week if you're single, or £8.85 if you're in a couple, through the Savings Pension Credit disregard.
Some amounts are ignored when calculating your income, for example:
certain benefits, such as the mobility components of Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment
half of private pensions or retirement annuities, if you’re giving them to a partner who is living at home
the income and capital of your partner, if you have one
Your council will tell you if they’ll pay some of your care costs, and if so, how much. The total amount they think your care should cost – including their contribution and yours – is called your personal budget. It’s based on your eligible needs and factors like the cost of care in your area. It must be high enough to pay for what the council say you need.
The council must show that at least one care home in the area can provide the care you need at the rate of your personal budget, and has a place available. If this is not the case, the council must increase your personal budget amount. This may increase their contribution towards your care.
If there is a care home available at the rate of your personal budget but you’d prefer a more expensive care home, you may be able to move there instead if someone else will pay the difference – for example, a family member, friend or charity. This is a third-party top-up fee. You can't usually pay your own top-up fees, except in very few circumstances.
In certain circumstances, the NHS may be responsible for paying for your care. If you have a high level of health and care needs, you may qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare.
If you aren’t able to get this but it has been decided that you need nursing care in a nursing home, you'll qualify for NHS-funded nursing care. This would pay for the nursing you receive in a nursing home, but not the accommodation costs.
Even if you’re paying for your own care, it's a good idea to get a care needs assessment from your council. The council must then give you a written assessment of your care needs, which can help you to decide if you need to move to a care home. They must also make sure you’re able to get financial information and advice to help you plan and pay for your care. They should also be able to help you find out about care homes in your area if you need this.