Confused about the maze of information on funding for care? Unsure what the latest advice is or what the thresholds are? Adam Pike, CEO of SuperCarers.com drills down to the key facts you need to know
1. Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Credit
Carer’s Allowance is the main state benefit for carers and is currently £61.35 per week. Entitlement depends on overlapping benefit rules and whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria. If you don’t meet these criteria you could receive Carer’s Credit – a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance contributions.
2. Support and needs assessment
Everyone is entitled to one, even carers. Your local authority provides them and are obliged to carry one out if requested. They assess your needs to find out what support and funding you need and are entitled to – you will be involved throughout the process. You must at least be given information on services and ways you might fund them. If your needs meet the national eligibility criteria your local authority must meet them.
3. Thresholds for funding care
Care is means tested and depends on your savings and capital. 57% of elderly people contribute towards their care.
The thresholds are:
• Less than £14,000 – your local authority pays for care
• Between £14,000 and £23,350 – you must contribute
• Over £23,350 – you must pay in full
The value of your home is only included if you’re moving into residential care.
4. Care home vs. live-in care
Just because your parent needs help doesn’t mean they have to move into residential care – with the right help they can live safely and happily at home. The cost can seem prohibitively expensive but older people often prefer to stay in their own home to maintain independence. Care homes on average cost £41,080 a year, or about £790 a week minimum. Live-in care routinely provides better outcomes and can be as affordable as £30,000 a year, or £600-£1000 a week depending on your care needs.
5. Basic level of income
The Care Act (2014) states that charges for care must be ‘reasonable’ and you must be left with a basic level of income – below this you shouldn’t be charged. This applies if you’re a ‘self-funder’ and pay for all of your care. The basic level of income is the income from income support or the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit, plus an extra 25%. It’s at your local authority’s discretion whether or not to count other benefits as income.
6. Care and support that can’t be charged
This applies for the following:
• Intermediate care, including reablement (up to 6 weeks)
• Aids and minor adaptations to the home less than £1,000
• After-care/support provided under the Mental Health Act 1983 section 117
• NHS services
• Any services that an authority has a duty to provide based on other legislation
7. NHS Continuing Healthcare
This care package is arranged and funded entirely by the NHS for individuals not in hospital who have been assessed as having a “primary health need”, whether you receive care at home or in a care home. If your loved one is approaching the end of their life, a “fast track” funding assessment may be appropriate.
8. Managing your payments – Direct Payments
If you get local authority funding, they will either provide the services or you’ll get direct payments. Direct payments are paid into your bank, building society, Post Office or National Savings account. You must spend the money on care needs agreed upon in your care plan. You’re in control of your own care and have more choice over the services you use. You can use an agency or employ your own staff. You should also be confident managing money and paperwork or have people who can help.
9. Independent Financial Advisor
Independent financial advisors can help plan how you will finance care and help you consider your funding options. You should always use a qualified financial advisor who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and has a specialist CF8 qualification.
They should help you find a way of funding care that is: suitable for your needs; affordable now and in the future; and compatible with your attitude to risk and financial priorities.
10. Other ways to fund care
• Registered Nursing Care Contribution
• Immediate need of care fee payment plans
• Deferred payment agreements
• Life-time mortgage
• Equity Release Scheme
• Downsizing your home
• Investment bonds
Here are some other resources to consider:
• BBC Care Calculator
• Carers UK
• Money Advice Service Guide to Long-Term Care
• NHS – Local Authority Funding for Care
• Alzheimer’s Society Paying for Care and Support in England Factsheet
SuperCarers is an online platform helping families find trusted carers in their local community. They use technology to match families with their perfect SuperCarer based on location, needs and interests and provide the tools to manage the scheduling, logistics and payment of care online, bypassing the high costs of agency middlemen. For more info, visit supercarers.com.