Social care financial assessment

Social care isn’t free for everyone and how much you contribute to your care will depend on your financial situation.

What is a financial assessment and who is it for?

If you have capital of less than the current limit of £23,250 you may be entitled to financial support from the authority to pay for the cost of your care.

If you have capital below the lower limit of £14,250 you will not need to contribute to the cost of their care and support.

If your social care worker thinks you need financial support, they will ask a trained benefits adviser to assess your finances and work out whether you should pay towards the cost of your care. They will use the County Council’s charging policy to do this. The benefits adviser will make sure that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to.

How a financial assessment is worked out

The charging policy is different depending on whether someone is receiving residential care (in a care home) or non-residential care (at their own home or in another setting).

Here we will set out the principles of non-residential care, but information specific to residential care financial assessments can be found at:

https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/charging-residential-accommodation

A local authority must not charge more than the cost that it incurs in meeting the assessed needs of the person. It also cannot recover any administration fee relating to arranging that care and support unless the person has capital above the upper limit and has asked the local authority to arrange their care and support on their behalf.

The financial assessment is also known as a means test and it will look at:

  • your capital – such as cash savings and investments, land and property (including overseas property), and business assets.
  • A local authority should not routinely include the assets of a spouse, civil partner or family member not receiving care and support in the financial assessment.
  • If you have jointly held savings, the total value is divided equally between joint owners.
  • For non-residential care the value of the house you live in will not be included in the financial assessment.
  • Life insurance policies are not included in your capital for this purpose.
  • Only your income can be assessed not that of your family members.
  • Make sure you get all your benefits and entitlements. This is because the means test will assume you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, even if you aren't already claiming them.
  • Local authorities may take most of the benefits you receive into account. However, some benefits must be disregarded, for a list of those consult https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance#AnnexC
  • In all cases, employed and self-employed earnings are fully disregarded. This is to encourage a person to remain in or take up employment, with the benefits this has for a person’s well-being, earnings from current employment must be disregarded when working out how much you can pay.
  • Local authorities must ensure that your income is not reduced below a specified level after charges have been deducted, this is known as the minimum income guarantee. The purpose of the minimum income guarantee is to promote independence and social inclusion and ensure you have sufficient funds to meet basic needs such as purchasing food, utility costs or insurance. This must be after any housing costs such as rent and council tax net of any benefits provided to support these costs – and after any disability related expenditure. If you live at home with your family and contribute towards housing costs, make the local authority aware of what you pay. Some local authorities may take this into account, as they would for rent or mortgage costs if you lived on your own.

The outcome of a financial assessment

Once the local authority has worked out your income and your living costs, it has an amount of money 'left over', from which you could be asked to pay a contribution for your care and support.

The benefits adviser will explain how your contribution is calculated when they carry out your financial assessment and give you a record of the amount you will be expected to pay.

More information on financial assessments

Preparing for a Financial Assessment

A financial assessment officer from the council will visit you, so ensure you have all the information you need in advance. This could include:

Details of income, for example:

  • state pension
  • state benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support, Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Universal Credit
  • Private pensions
  • Annuities and trust funds
  • Any other income.
  • Details of savings and capital, for example:
  • bank statements, building society accounts
  • bonds, shares and other investments
  • details of any property or land (other than your main home)
  • any other capital or savings.
  • Details of expenditure, for example;
    • Proof of mortgage or rent payments
    • Council tax and water charges
    • Disability related expenditure (examples listed below). Your local authority might use a set amount to cover disability related expenditure, but if you think what you spend on disability related costs is higher than that set amount, you should say this.

Examples of disability related expenditure

  • Costs of any privately arranged care services, including respite care.

Costs of any special items caused by a disability – for example:

  • above average gas/electricity/water costs, for example because of the need to wash bedding more often or the need to keep the house at a warmer temperature
  • special clothing or footwear, for example where this needs to be specially made, or additional wear and tear to clothing and footwear caused by disability
  • special washing powders or laundry
  • additional costs of bedding, for example because of incontinence
  • costs of basic cleaning, garden maintenance or other domestic help, if needed because of disability and not met by social services
  • personal assistance costs, including household or other necessary costs for the individual
  • additional costs of special dietary needs due to disability
  • purchase, maintenance and repair of disability related equipment, this may include computer costs where necessitated by the disability
  • transport costs needed because of disability, including costs of transport to and from day centres, where this costs more than the mobility component of DLA and is not provided by social services.

It won’t work to spend your money or give your property away before the financial assessment – known as ‘deprivation of assets’. The assessment can ask you about things you used to own. If the council thinks you have reduced your wealth on purpose, it might stop you getting any type of financial help.

Sources:

www.essex.gov.uk/financial-assessment

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/means-tests-for-help-with-care-costs-how-they-work