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.
Most care and support services at home aren’t free and councils generally charge for providing them. After a care needs assessment, your local council may give you a financial assessment to work out what you’d have to pay towards the cost of your care.
What is a financial assessment?
The financial assessment, or means test, works out what you’ll have to pay towards the cost of your care. It’s carried out by your local council after they complete your care needs assessment, which looks at what care needs you may have.
The financial assessment will consider:
- your income, including any pensions and benefits
- your capital, including savings.
If you'll be getting care services at home, the value of your home is not included if you own it. This is different to the rules about charging if you’re moving to a care home.
What you'll have to pay
What you’ll be asked to pay for care and support services depends on your financial situation. The council can't charge anyone else, such as your partner or someone you live with. They will look at:
Your income must not go below a certain amount, known as the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). This is so you can still afford daily living costs, such as food and utility bills.
If your weekly income is higher than your care costs, you’ll usually have to pay for all your care yourself – as long as you're left with at least your MIG amount. Read our factsheet Getting a financial assessment for care at home for more information.
If the council includes any disability-related benefits you receive in your financial assessment, they must also consider any disability-related expenses you have.
Capital is money or items that have a financial value, for example, savings, investments, land and property.
If your capital is:
- less than £14,250 – you won’t have to use any of your capital to pay for your care
- between £14,250 and £23,250 – you’re assumed to have £1 per week extra in your income for every £250 in capital between these limits
- more than £23,250 – you may have to pay for all the care you receive.
If you own your home, it won't be included in the assessment if you're getting care services at home.
For more information, see our factsheet Getting a financial assessment for care at home.
What else is considered
If you need adaptations or equipment
If you’ve been assessed as needing an adaptation that costs less than £1000 or any equipment, these must be provided for free. Higher cost home adaptations would need a separate financial assessment.
Giving away money and belongings
If the council thinks you've given away your financial assets to avoid paying for care, they may still count them in the financial assessment. For more information, visit our page Your assets and the financial assessment.
Organising your care
Your council must tell you how much they think your care will cost. This amount is called your personal budget, and is the total amount needed to meet your care needs. It includes the council's contribution towards the cost, as well as any contribution you'll need to make.
You can decide how your personal budget should be spent, as long as it’s used to meet the eligible needs in your agreed care plan. For example, you could receive direct payments from the council and organise your own care services if you prefer. Read more about ways to use your personal budget.
If you’re paying for your care yourself and have eligible needs, you can still ask the council to organise care services for you. They must help you if you ask them to, but they can charge you a fee for this.
If you have difficulty paying
The charges you’re asked to pay shouldn’t put you in financial difficulty. If you’re struggling to pay, talk to your council. Their charge must be based on your individual circumstances, and they may not have considered all your costs and outgoings. They can’t suddenly stop providing your services without telling you in this type of situation.
Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to, such as Pension Credit. You may also be able to get disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment to help you pay for your support services.
If you disagree with the council’s assessment
The council should give you the information about your financial assessment in writing, and your care plan if they are meeting your needs. If you’re not happy with the outcome of the financial assessment – for example, you disagree with their assessment of your income or capital – you can ask them to review it.
If you’re still not satisfied, you could use the council’s complaints procedure to make a complaint. For more advice, call our Helpline.
For more information on paying for care at home, read our factsheet Getting a financial assessment for care at home.
To find out about the care needs assessment, read our factsheet First steps in getting help with your care needs.