Changes during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Some key information about changes to services during the pandemic is included on this page. For regular updates, please check our coronavirus hub.

What you will have to pay

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 helps you to work out what care needs you may have. The financial assessment will look at your income - including any pensions and benefits you receive – and your capital. If you’re having care services at home, the value of your home is not included.

What you’ll be asked to pay for care and support services depends on your resources. Your local council must base its charging policy on national rules and you’ll only be asked to pay what you can reasonably afford. They can’t charge anyone else, such as your partner or someone you live with. There are different rules about charging if you’re moving to a care home.

During the coronavirus pandemic, your council might delay financial assessments – see Changes to services for information on this.

How the council works out your contribution

Your income

Your income must not go below a minimum amount (known as the Minimum Income Guarantee) 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. See 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 take into account any disability-related expenses you have.

Your capital

The council also looks at your capital. This 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 (or part of £250) in capital between these limits
  • more than £23,250 – you may have to pay for all the care you receive.

If you need home 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

Deprivation of assets is when you try to avoid or reduce the amount you pay for future care by giving away your money, things you own of value or right to receive certain types of income. If the council decides you did do this after looking into your reasons, they may still count the amount you've given away as part of your capital or income in the financial assessment. For more information, see Giving away assets to avoid paying for care.

Organising your care

The council must tell you how much they think your care will cost. If they are paying towards the costs, this amount is called your personal budget. You can decide how it should be spent as long as it’s used to meet the eligible needs in your agreed care plan. You could receive direct payments from the council and organise your own care services if you prefer.

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 taken all your costs and outgoings into account. 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.

Next steps

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.

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