Financial assessment for social care

This information applies to England and Wales.

Local authorities can charge for care and support following needs assessments. Most people will have to pay something towards the cost.

If you have care needs that relate to an impairment or condition, you might be entitled to social care support. You will have a social care needs assessment to look at what support is available.

Getting a social care needs assessment

When you have a financial assessment

You have a financial assessment if you’ve had a social care needs assessment or applying for a personal budget.

You do not have a financial assessment for:

  • a carer’s budget
  • a wheelchair budget
  • a personal budget for EHCP
  • continuing healthcare (CHC)

Once you have had a needs assessment, your local authority will carry out a financial assessment to decide how much you can afford to pay. This will decide your weekly contribution.

The financial department of your local authority will do the assessment, not the health care professional who did your needs assessment. It will be at your home, via email or over the phone. They will contact you usually within a few weeks of getting the outcome of your needs assessment. You can ask your local authority for their waiting times.

Your care can start before a financial assessment, but any contributions will be backdated. Your local authority will pay for your care.

If the financial assessment shows you must pay for some of your care, you will have to pay it back.

Financial assessment for children

If your child needs direct payments, you will manage the budget. You do not have a financial assessment and you do not pay anything towards their care.

If you’re aged 16 or 17 you can:

  • manage the direct payments or
  • choose to have someone else manage it for you

You will have a financial assessment, it will look at any money you have, but it’s rare you would pay towards your care.

Warning When you do not pay for your care

Local authorities cannot charge for some types of care and support. This includes:

  • care for up to 6 weeks after you leave hospital (known as intermediate care or reablement)
  • community equipment, such as aids and minor adaptations costing up to £1,000

Aids and minor adaptions can include:

  • grab rails
  • a ramp into your home
  • equipment like a walking stick or crutches

Household gadgets and equipment to make life easier (NHS)

Who has to pay towards their social care

Most people will have to pay something towards their social care.

If you have over £23,250 in savings and other assets, you have to pay for all your care.

How your financial contribution is calculated

Preparing for a financial assessment

You will need to get evidence of:

  • benefits you receive
  • pension payments
  • savings accounts
  • other assets (including investments, ISAs or bonds)

Before your financial assessment, look at what disability-related expenses you have and how much they cost.

Disability-related expenses

Warning Sharing your financial information

You will receive an invoice for the full cost of your care if you do not share your financial information with the assessor.

If you need support getting the financial documents you need, contact Citizens Advice.

Find your local Citizens Advice (Citizens Advice)

Without your financial information they can assume that you have the highest level of finances.

How your financial contribution is calculated

You can find your local authority's financial assessment policy on their website. They have to follow national guidelines but have some local flexibility.

Find your local council and authority (GOV.UK)

When you have a financial assessment they will look at 5 sections:

If you want to work out how much you will have to pay, click on the section links. For example, not all benefits or income are counted.

The calculation

They will work out your contribution by calculating your total income. This is a combination of:

They then work out how much money they do not count. This is known as the amounts disregarded. This includes:

If your total income is higher than the amounts disregarded, you will contribute towards your care. The amount of money left over is known as ‘over disregard'. This is your weekly contribution towards care.

For example, if your:

  • total income is £400 a week
  • amounts disregarded are £300 a week

£400 minus £300 = £100

The amount left would be ‘over disregard’ and you would pay £100 a week towards your social care.

If you live in Wales, your weekly contributions will not be higher than £100. There is no maximum if you live in England.

Income and benefits

When calculating your total income, the local authority counts some things and ignores others.

For a financial assessment, it includes the following income:

For a financial assessment, it does not include the following income:

Pension payments and State Pension age

If you are receiving a pension, this counts as income.

Being State Pension age also changes the amount of money the local authority leaves you to live on. This is known as the minimum level of income.

Minimum level of income

If you start getting your pension, you should ask for another financial assessment. The contact details will be on the outcome letter you received after your initial assessment.

Savings limits

Savings limits for social care depend on where you live.

If you have a partner, 50% of any joint savings will count.

England

In England, if you have savings and capital over £23,250, you will have to pay the full cost of your care and support.

The assessment will not consider savings and capital below £14,250. But the assessment will assume you have £1 a week income for every £250 savings and capital between £14,250 and £23,250.

For example, if you receive social care and have £15,250 in savings.

The first £14,250 is ignored. Every £250 of the remaining £1,000 counts as £1 of weekly contributions.

This means you will pay £4 extra towards your weekly contribution for social care.

Wales

In Wales, if you have savings and capital over £24,000, you will have to pay the maximum of £100 a week towards your care and support. This is when you receive care within your own home.

If you are in a care home, you will pay for all your care if you have over £50,000 in savings.

Charging for social care (gov.wales)

The assessment looks at extra costs you have to pay because of your impairment or condition. This might be called disability-related expenditure (DRE) or disability-related costs.

Local authorities will decide what they consider to be disability-related expenses. If you can work out your weekly disability-related costs, this can help the assessment.

If you need support working this out, contact Citizens Advice or make a list of your costs. The financial assessor can help you work out the amounts.

Find your local Citizens Advice (Citizens Advice)

Disability-related costs can include:

  • a community alarm
  • extra heating costs
  • extra costs of special dietary needs
  • extra or specialist clothing
  • extra washing (if you need to wash things more often)
  • equipment or technology you have bought
  • saving for disability-related equipment

Savings for disability-related equipment

If some or all of your savings are for disability-related equipment, the financial assessor could ignore this when calculating your contribution. To prove what the savings are for, you could:

  • explain why you need this piece of equipment
  • show how much the equipment costs
  • show emails or information of the company you are planning to buy from
  • say when you plan to buy the equipment

If the assessor agrees that some or all of your savings are for a disability-related expense, they will not include this when calculating your financial contribution.

If you still have this money when you are reassessed, your contributions can be backdated. This means you could owe social services money.

Housing costs

The financial assessment deducts any household expenses such as rent, mortgage and Council Tax from your total income.

If you own your home and live in it, this does not count as assets. If you are moving into a care home, your property can count as assets.

If you’re moving into a care home

If you move into a care home, your home does not count as assets if certain people still live there. These include:

  • your partner
  • a close relative who is 60 or over or requires support
  • a close relative under the age of 16 who you’re legally responsible for

Your local authority might also accept other circumstances.

If your house counts as an asset, you might have to use this asset to pay for your care. But you do not have to sell your house right away.

You can set up a deferred payment agreement with your local authority. This will say how and when your house will be sold.

Deferred payment agreements (MoneyHelper)

Minimum level of income

The local authority must leave you with a minimum level of income. This is the amount of money you have to live off.

In England, this is known as the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). In Wales, they call this the Minimum Income Amount (MIA).

England and Wales have different minimum levels of income.

If you live in Wales, contact your local authority to find out how payments are calculated.

Charging for social care (gov.wales)

Warning Minimum level of income when you’re in a care home

If you are going into a care home, the minimum level of income that you are left with is £25.65 per week.

It is sometimes called a personal expenses allowance (PEA). This is because you will not have bills to pay.

If you are single and live in England

This is your minimum level of income per week if you’re single and:

  • aged 18 or older but less than 25, you get £82.15 a week
  • aged 25 or older but less than State Pension age, you get £103.65 a week
  • State Pension age, you get £214.35 a week
  • a lone parent aged 18 or over, you get £103.65 a week

If you get a disability premium, you will also get:

  • an extra £45.75 a week (disability premium)
  • an extra £22.35 a week (enhanced disability premium)

If you are in a relationship and live in England

This is your minimum level of income per week if you are in a relationship and:

  • 1 or both of you are aged 18 or over, you get £81.40 a week
  • 1 or both of you are State Pension age, you get £163.65 a week

If you or your partner get a disability premium, you will also get:

  • an extra £32.60 a week (disability premium)
  • an extra £16.05 a week (enhanced disability premium)

Additional amounts if you live in England

If you live in the same household as your child, you get an extra £94.90 a week per child.

If you get a carers premium, you get an extra £49.05 a week.

Carers premium can also be called:

  • carers element
  • carers addition

What is the Carer Premium? (Carers UK)

After the financial assessment

After the financial assessment you will receive a letter that will tell you:

  • how much you will be charged weekly for your care
  • how they have calculated your contribution
  • contact details for the financial assessor
  • what the next steps are

If you agree with their decision, you will receive an invoice every month and will pay the agreed amount towards your care.

If you think they are asking you to pay too much, you can challenge the decision.

Challenging or complaining about a financial assessment

If your income changes

If your income or disability-related costs change, this could affect how much you pay towards your social care.

You should ask for another financial assessment. The contact details will be on the outcome letter you received after your initial assessment.

If your needs have changed, contact your local authority and ask for another needs assessment.

Getting a social care needs assessment

Challenging or complaining about a financial assessment

If you are unhappy or do not agree with the outcome of your financial assessment, you can:

  1. ask for a reconsideration
  2. appeal
  3. contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Challenging or complaining about your social care

For example, if your contributions have increased, you can ask your local authority why this has happened. If you are not happy with the response, you can ask for a reconsideration.

An advocate can help you with the appeal process.

Advocates for social care assessments and appeals

If you choose to call when you ask for a reconsideration or an appeal, follow up the conversation with an email or letter so they have your request in writing.

Warning Changes to your contribution

If you challenge your financial assessment, they look at your financial information again. This could make your contributions go up or down.

Ask for a reconsideration

A reconsideration means that a different financial assessor will look at your finances. If you have new information about your finances, you can share this during a reconsideration.

To get a reconsideration, you must contact your financial assessor and say why you think the decision is wrong. The contact information should be on the letter.

Appeal

If you are still unhappy with the reconsideration, you can appeal the decision. This is where someone else looks at all your information again.

To get an appeal, contact the finance department and ask to speak with the team manager. The contact information should be on the letter. Tell them why you think the reconsideration is wrong.

Contact the Ombudsman

If the reconsideration and appeal have not resolved your complaint, you can contact the Ombudsman.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is an independent organisation that will investigate complaints about social care. It is a free service.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Last reviewed by Scope on: 14/11/2023

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