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Social care: paying for care home places and domiciliary care (England)

Published Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This House of Commons Library briefing paper provides information about the means-test that applies to care home residents and those in other settings (such as those receiving care at home) in need of social care, and provides information on personal budgets.

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From April 2015, new rules apply in respect of those who either reside in a care home, or receive domiciliary care (i.e. care at home) and are in need of care and support from their local authority. The rules are set out in the Department of Health’s Care and Support Statutory Guidance.

In summary:

  • everyone whose needs are met by the local authority must have a personal budget detailing how much support they are entitled to;
  • there is a means-test applied to determine if someone is eligible for local authority financial support towards the cost of their care and support costs;
  • where someone is receiving such support, they are expected to contribute their income (except exempt income); however, they should have a specified amount left over each week for personal spending;
  • if someone in a care home meets the eligibility criteria or if the local authority, at its discretion, allows, that person can defer paying for their care and support costs through, in effect, a loan, although they may be charged interest (a “deferred payments agreement”);
  • a care home resident’s local authority funding can be “topped-up” to allow them to live in a more expensive care home, although in most cases such top-ups can only be made by a third party (i.e. not the care home resident).

At present, the value of a person’s home is only taken into account in the means-test if they are a care home resident - even then there a number of circumstances where it has to be disregarded (e.g. if a spouse and certain other relatives continues to live it), and local authorities also have a general discretion to choose to disregard it.

For those in receipt of domiciliary care, the value of their home is excluded from the means-test. However, the current Government’s manifesto proposed changing this long-standing approach.  Further details are expected to be set out in a forthcoming Green Paper.  For more information on the manifesto, see section 6 of the Library briefing paper Social care: Government reviews and policy proposals for paying for care since 1997 (England).

This note applies to England only.

Further information on the current social care funding system can be found in:

It had been planned that a more generous means-test and a cap limiting the amount a person had to contribute during their lifetime to their social care funding would be introduced in April 2016; these were postponed in an announcement made by the Government in July 2015. Further information can be found in the following Library briefing papers:


Commons Briefing papers SN01911

Author: Tim Jarrett

Topics: Community care, Older people

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