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Non-Residential Charges: Paying towards the cost of your care and support at home

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F3 

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have recently launched their new ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ partnerships with a number of national charities, of which Disability Rights UK is one. This involves Disability Rights UK gathering feedback from disabled people about their experiences of using health and social care services. The CQC would welcome feedback on your experience of using any of the services they regulate. Please click here to do so.

Charging for your care and support needs in England

The new Care Act for adult care and support cancels the Fairer Charging Guidance and the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance (CRAG), however there is little change in the present social care funding system, as the biggest funding reforms, that were initially intended to be introduced in April 2016, have been postponed to April 2020.

The previous guidance documents of Fairer Charging Guidance and CRAG have come to an end on 1st April 2015. The statutory guidance on charging for care and support under the Care Act 2014 is found in the Care and Support Statutory (CASS) Guidance published in October 2014. The Care Act broadly maintains the existing charging system. This guidance will be reviewed regularly and there is a new version of the CASS guidance that is being prepared to take account of the changes.

Local Authorities’ powers to charge

Previously, councils were allowed to charge for domiciliary care under Section 17 of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983. As the Care Act 2014 maintains this arrangement, local authorities have powers to charge for care and support, as per the Care Act, to cover the costs they incur when contracting for care and support. Local authorities have discretion to have more generous charging rules than those set out in the regulations. Local authorities will continue to draft their own domiciliary charging policies subject to the Guidance.

The councils carry out a financial assessment to determine how much individuals can afford to pay towards their care and support costs. If you are receiving care and support from your local authority, you may be subject to a charge towards the cost of your care. Unlike NHS, care and support is not a free service, so your local authority have the right to request a contribution from you depending on your financial circumstances.

While the councils have the power to charge individuals receiving social care, the Act specifies that people will only be asked to pay what they can afford. Under the existing legislation, the councils may not at present, nor will they be able to in the future, charge you more than the actual cost to the local authority of care to meet your needs.

Assessing how much you should pay

Local authorities may charge you for domiciliary services you receive from social services. The charges are means tested so you may be expected to pay towards the cost of your care and support needs following a financial assessment.

It is crucial that you are given in writing the amount you are expected to pay and how your contribution is worked out. The local authority should only assess your resources (resources of the cared for individual or their share of joint resources) when deciding how much to charge. The council should not consider the assets owned by another person.

Local authorities have the right to include in the amount, you are charged, any administrative costs (or recurring costs due to court action) incurred on the councils as part of debt recovery.

If you are faced with any arrears of charges that are substantial, you should not be expected to pay it all off at once, but you should be given a reasonable length of time in which to pay the money gradually.

Conducting the financial assessment

Local authorities can draft policies that are more generous than the minimum requirements set out in regulations and statutory guidance. The Care and Support Statutory Guidance includes a number of instances where the guidance is that local authorities should disregard sums which are not disregarded in the regulations. The CASS set minimum requirements for things such as disregards however local authorities can be more generous if they wish.

The charging arrangements of the Care Act are broadly similar to the rules that preceded it. Local authorities may not assist you towards the cost of your care and support if you have more than £23,250 in savings but if they wish to provide support to you even if you have over the minimum limit of £23,250, then they can use their power to do so.

Savings Credits are disregarded for people receiving care and support. Local authorities should disregard working tax credits in the calculation of your income. Your earnings from employment should be ignored in any assessment. You cannot be charged for services provided by the NHS, such as those provided by a district nurse. Community equipment is also free, and minor adaptations costing less than £1000 which you or your carer are assessed as needing will be provided.

Personal injury compensation placed in a personal injury compensation trust is fulling disregarded under the CASS Guidance, just as it was the case under section 8 of the Fairer Charging Guidance.

Previously, the Fairer Charging Guidance made a distinction between day and night care, as well as the three different rates of DLA, and higher rate and lower rate of the AA. This has now changed because DLA is being replaced by PIP which has two rates and there is no distinction between day and night care as stated in paragraph 47 of the guidance.

DLA care component & PIP daily living component

If you receive the highest rate DLA care component for both daytime and night-time care needs, but your local authority is only meeting your daytime care needs and you have to self-fund for your night-time care needs, then LA would be asked to apply paras 39 and 40 of Annex C of the updated Care and Support guidance to allow a disregard of the night-time part of your DLA care as this night-time care cost would be considered as a disability related expenditure (DRE) in this case. This also applies if you are getting higher rate attendance allowance. So your local authority would just take the part for daytime care when conducting a financial assessment.

However, it would be harder to challenge LA if you are getting the highest rate of DLA care or higher rate of AA care when you don’t actually pay for night-time care. This means that if you are not paying for night time care (from your own income) and your night time needs are not being met, it would be difficult to argue that there is a “disability-related expenditure” for night time care needs. Local authorities must allow sufficient funds to be retained for night time care when they are not providing you with night time care.

If your local authority charges against PIP, it may take all of your PIP daily living component in the financial assessment. Things vary between councils. At present, many councils are beginning to treat the whole of DLA care and AA as income in the same way as they would PIP daily living. On the other hand, few councils are applying the night-time disregard to PIP daily living in the same way as for DLA care and AA.

While the Care & Support guidance and regulations explicitly state that the mobility component of DLA/PIP cannot be taken into account in the process of a financial assessment, it does not clearly mention that local authorities cannot take into account the highest rate DLA/AA if night time care is not being provided.

You could however argue that you are receiving the highest rate of care because you have night time care needs your LA may disregard an amount for the night element.

Local councils should make an assessment of your disability-related expenditure and allow you to keep enough benefit to meet any needs not being met by the council. The local authority needs to take into account any Disability Related Expenses (DRE) you have when carrying out the financial assessment. The DRE is any additional expenses incurred because of your disability. This can include laundry costs due to incontinence, high heating bills (if, for example, you have poor blood circulation), accessible taxi fares costs, equipment, essential dietary requirements costs, special clothing (because of wear and tear), internet costs, therapies. You should try and make a full list of all your disability related expenses if you are having a local authority assessment. Any requested contribution to costs needs to be reasonably practicable for you to be able to pay.

Appealing against the local authority’s decision

You have the right to appeal against the local authority’s decision if you are not happy with the amount of contribution you have been asked to pay. Local authorities cannot cease funding your care package while you are disputing the charges you are expected to pay. Please refer to factsheet no. 6 for information on how to make a complaint.

What is the present social care funding system?

Currently, you are expected to be a self-funder if you have savings above £23,250, i.e. you are expected to pay for all of your care costs – you are not entitled to receive any social care funding. If you have less than £14,250 in savings, you don’t need to make use of these savings to pay towards the cost of your care and support needs.

If you have got savings between£14,250 and £23,250, you pay an amount towards your care following a financial assessment conducted by the financial assessor and involving you (or your nominated person).

If you have £23,250 in savings, you will continue paying towards the costs of your care package till your savings reach below £14,250.  However, all this will change because of the Care Act. The Care Act changes the rules about who qualifies for support from the council as well as the charging for care.

When will these changes in England take place?

Initially, the government intended to introduce the £72,000 cap in April 2016 as stated in the Care Act 2014 (that came into force in April 2015) but then it has been decided to delay these funding reforms till 2020. The government’s policy to cap social care costs in England under the Care Act has been deferred following the request of councils to postpone it due to enormous funding pressures faced by local authorities. The cap formed a key manifesto commitment for the government that was due to come into force in April 2016.

What are the changes that will take place under the Care Cap?

At present, the elderly and disabled people with assets above £23,250 do not receive help from local councils towards care costs. Those who have under £23,250 in savings get social care funding towards their costs while those with assets above the set threshold are expected to be self-funders.

The funding changes would have brought up this figure to £118,000, a more generous social care system that would have benefited a lot of elderly and disabled people.  The government has proposed lifetime costs, a limit on how much people in England should pay towards meeting their eligible support needs in their lifetime.

A cap of £72,000 will be introduced from April 2020 to determine what people are expected to pay towards care and support needs. The Care Act brings in new crucial changes to the funding rules that councils must adhere to when supporting people with social care needs. Once your ‘care account’ reaches a certain figure (i.e. the Care Cap), your local authority must take over most of your care costs.

In Wales

Paying for care services is found in the Social Services and Well-being Act 2014 that was implemented on 6 April 2016.In Wales, you will be generally expected to pay something towards the cost of your care, though in some situations people who are on low income may be “entitled to care and support at no charge”.

As per the Welsh Government’s Code of Practice guidance, local authorities have the discretion to decide whether or not to charge you for social care services, but in reality, authorities in Wales are highly likely to charge for most, if not all their services. The Welsh Government’s guidance states that people “must not be charged more than the cost to the authority of providing or arranging the care and support they are receiving”.

In Wales, there is a maximum weekly charge for homecare and other non-residential social care services. The current maximum charge from 10 April 2017 is £70 per week. Local authorities cannot charge you more than this maximum amount a week, regardless of which services, or combination of services, you are receiving.

The Code of Practice guidance mentions that “because a person who receives care and support outside a care home will need to pay their daily living costs such as rent, food and utilities, the charging framework seeks to ensure they have enough money to meet these costs”; “as a result after charging local authorities must leave a person who is being charged with a minimum income amount”.

The local authority must publish information about its charging procedure. All local authorities in Wales must follow the national Welsh Government guidance when processing the means test which you can read if you click on the link below:


In Scotland

People normally pay towards the care costs at home except nursing home that is free and personal care is free if you are 65 or over. Local authorities in Scotland set their own rules on charging have their own charging policies and use their discretion about which services you will be charged for and the amount they charge you. This is in line with the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002; the full legislation is available at: www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2002/5/contents

The council will look at the amount you can afford to pay towards your care from your income and savings. Any care you need which is classed as Personal Care should be free if you are 65 or over regardless of your income or savings. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) gives guidance to councils about how they should work out charges, but councils have their own charging policies which you can access on their website.

As a rule, the council conducts a financial assessment on your income after you meet your housing and council tax costs to work out how much you can reasonably pay. The value of your home is not counted as capital, so is not included in the council’s calculation of your savings and capital.

If you are over pension age, guidance from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) suggests that councils should ignore the first £10,000 of your savings. Where your savings are over £10,000, the council assumes that you have weekly “tariff income” of £1 for each £500 above £10,000. Hence, if you have £12,000 you would be assessed as having £4 weekly tariff income. If you are below pension age, only the first £6000 of your savings will be ignored and the tariff income rate will be £1 per £250.

In Northern Ireland

Health and social care Trusts may choose to charge for domiciliary care services [in a person’s home], though they generally don’t charge except for the home help scheme and meals on wheels services. HSCT’s must conduct a financial assessment if they decide to charge you and should not take any disability-related benefit in the financial assessment. People over 75 in NI are not charged.

Where can I get more help or information?

This factsheet is a basic overview of non-residential charges. You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK

For further help and information please contact our Advice Line - 0330 995 0404.

You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org. We have a number of independent living factsheets.

6 February 2019

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