Paying for Permanent Residential Care | Paying For a Care Home |

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Where do I start in arranging care?

Paying for residential care in a care home is expensive. There is some help available to meet the cost, but the care system can be complicated and difficult to find your way through. You may be eligible for financial help from your local council or, in some circumstances, from the NHS.


Will the local council pay for my care home fees?

If you're eligible for financial support, your local council could pay some or most of the fees. The council will carry out a care needs assessment. If this finds you need care in a care home, they'll carry out a financial assessment to work out whether you qualify for help with the cost. This will look at your income and capital.

Where do I start in arranging care?

The first step to getting care, whether you need home adaptations, home care or a care home place, is to get a care needs assessment from your local council.


How much will I have to pay for care?

If you're eligible for funding support, your local council will calculate the overall cost of your care and do a financial assessment to find out how much you'll need to contribute to the overall cost.

The council must make sure that the overall cost you're entitled to (called your personal budget) is enough to pay for at least one suitable care home.

You'll be expected to pay towards the cost from your income included in the financial assessment, for example your pension. However you must be left a Personal Expenses Allowance of at least £30.15 per week. The council has discretion to increase this amount depending on your circumstances.

Find out more about personal budgets

NHS Funding

If your needs are primarily health-based, the NHS arrange and pay for your care under NHS continuing healthcare. If you're eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, your care home placement will be free. When assessing your needs, the council must refer you to the NHS if they think you might be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare.

If you think your need for NHS continuing healthcare hasn't been properly considered, ask the local NHS Integrated Care Board for an assessment.

If you don't meet the criteria for NHS continuing healthcare, but need nursing care, the NHS pays a contribution towards the cost of the nursing care directly to the nursing home. This is called NHS-funded nursing care.

Find out more about NHS continuing healthcare


How could the level of finances affect how much I pay for my care?

If your local council carries out a care needs assessment and finds you need a care home place, they'll do a financial assessment to work out how much you need to contribute towards the cost of your care.

This assessment takes into account your income and capital. Certain types of income, such as money from certain disability benefits, are ignored in the financial assessment. This is the same for certain types of capital. 

The value of your property may be included as capital in the financial assessment. However, in certain circumstances, the council can't include your property in the financial assessment.

Find out more about selling your home to pay for care

In England, councils have upper and lower limits for financial help. The table below explains the limits.

Your capital What you'll have to pay 
Over £23,250 You'll have to pay your own fees as a 'self-funder'.
Between £14,250 and £23,250 The council provides financial support and you pay a contribution from your income (such as pensions) plus a tariff income.
Under £14,250 The council provides financial support and you pay a contribution from your income – with no tariff income.

The tariff income assumes you have an extra £1 per week in income for every £250 (or part of) you have in capital between £14,250 and £23,250. So if you had £15,000 then you’d pay £3 a week in tariff income.


Frequently asked questions

Will costs of care vary by location?

Fees will vary depending on the area you're in and the home you choose.

On average, it costs around £800 a week for a place in a care home and £1,078 a week for a place in a nursing home. However, these are average figures – individual care homes may charge more or less.

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What if I give away some of my money?

You may think about giving away some of your savings, income or property to avoid paying likely care costs, and to give something to your relatives or charity, for example.

If the council thinks that you have done this to avoid paying care fees they may still assess you as if you still had the money or property that you have given away. This is referred to as deprivation of assets.

Find out more about deprivation of assets

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What if I run out of money?

If you are paying fees yourself (called self-funding) and your capital reaches less than £23,250, the local council may assist with funding. You should request an assessment a few months before that happens as they will have to agree you need a care home.

They should arrange one as soon as possible so you don’t have to use up your capital below that amount.

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How do I pay my part of the care fees?

If you receive funding from your local council, generally the council pays the full amount to the home then collects the amount you need to pay from you.

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Do I get a choice about which care home I live in?

If you're paying for your own care, you can choose which care home to live in.

If the local council is paying some or all of your costs, you still have the right to choose your care home, although this is subject to certain conditions. This also applies to people who will fund their own residential care to start with but may need local council assistance with the fees later.

If you prefer a particular care home, the local council must try to arrange accommodation in that home, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • the home chosen is suitable to meet your assessed needs
  • the provider is willing to enter into a contract on the local council's terms and conditions and there is a place available
  • If the home costs more than the overall amount the council calculates is necessary to meet your needs, the ‘personal budget’, someone is willing and able to pay the extra cost through a ‘top-up’.

See our page on finding a care home for more information

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What if I prefer a more expensive care home than the local council will pay for?

If you'd prefer to live in a care home that costs more than the amount necessary to meet your needs, this can be arranged as long as someone is willing and able to pay the difference in cost.

This is usually paid by someone who knows you (known as a third party) and is called a ‘top-up’ fee. The council can't ask for a ‘top-up’ fee if you're in a more expensive home out of necessity rather than preference.

The council have to show there's at least one suitable care home available at the overall amount it calculates as necessary to meet your needs without a top-up fee.

Find out more about top-up fees

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What if I only need a short-term or temporary stay in a care home?

If you're eligible for financial help from the council, your contribution towards the cost of your care will be calculated differently if it's temporary, and the value of your home will be ignored in the financial assessment.

If you need a short-term stay in a care home after being discharged from hospital, for example, your care might be free under ‘intermediate care’. This can be provided by either the council or the NHS.

Paying for short-term and temporary care in a care home factsheet (505 KB)

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Last updated: Jun 10 2024

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