Financial information for people entering residential or nursing home care

Slough Borough Council will make a charge for residential and non-residential services and will spend all of the income raised on providing more care for people.

If the council did not charge, it would not be possible to help everyone who needs support.

This page provides information for people entering, or likely to enter, a residential or nursing care home. It answers the most common questions that arise about the financial implications, and explains how we will work out what service users may have to pay towards meeting their care needs in a care home.

A care home may be a Residential or a Nursing Home. They are privately run, and their ownership can range from an individual to a public limited company. Care homes charge a weekly fee. A financial assessment will need to be completed to calculate how much you will have to pay towards the cost of your care. This may be the full weekly fee, or you may be entitled to some financial support depending on your financial circumstances. Details of how we work this out are covered later in this page. Please note that if it is a nursing home, you will not be expected to meet the cost of the nursing part of the care, which is funded by the NHS.

Please note the figures quoted are all for the financial year from April 2015 to March 2016 and are subject to change on an annual basis.

Entering a care home

If you think you are no longer able to live at home, even with appropriate home care support, and you need financial help in order to enter a care home, you should contact Slough Social Services. Contact details are given at the end of this page.

Someone from Social Services will visit you to carry out an assessment of your needs for care and support. If you wish, you may have someone with you, such as a relative, friend or independent advocate. If the assessment shows that your needs can best be met in a residential or nursing home, we can, if you wish, help you choose a suitable home.

Managing your finances

As part of the assessment of your needs for care and support, we will need to establish whether you have the capacity to deal with your own finances.

If you are deemed to lack the capacity to manage your own finances, and you do not already have a Finance and Property Attorney or a Deputy, an application for Property and Affairs Deputyship will need to be made to the Court of Protection.

Financial assessment of your weekly contribution

If you enter a residential or nursing home, whether this is for a short-stay or permanently, we will carry out a financial assessment to calculate how much you will have to pay towards the cost of your care. One of our financial assessment and benefits officers will arrange to visit you to calculate what this amount will be. The rules determining how much you must pay are set by the government.

You, or your representative, will be asked to provide details and evidence of your income, savings, and property. The financial assessment and benefits officer can help with this. They can also carry out a benefits check to see what you are entitled to, and can help you with applying for benefits.

The value of your home may be taken into account in the calculation. The treatment of your home is explained in more details later in this leaflet. (Please note that the value of your home is not taken into account if it is planned that you will only be going into the care home on a short-stay, or respite, basis and that you will return to your own home.)

  • If you have savings / capital over £23,250 you will be responsible the full cost of your care. (If this later reduces to £23,250, you can then request support, normally from the local authority in whose area the care home is situated.)
  • If your savings / capital are under £23,250, we will work out what you will have to contribute towards the cost of your care. How we calculate this is explained in more detail in the section below on ‘How do we work out what you have to pay?’
  • If you own your own home and your other savings / capital are below £23,250, you may be eligible for local authority help through a Deferred Payment Agreement, which is explained later in this leaflet.

If you do not want to disclose your financial circumstances, you will be deemed to have accepted responsibility for the full weekly fees.

Personal Expenses Allowance

As the local authority is arranging for your assessed care needs there are only limited expenses you will need to incur when in the care home, eg stationery, toiletries, hairdressing. To enable you to pay for these the government sets a minimum amount you should keep from your pensions / benefits. This is called the Personal Expenses Allowance. The amount is set each year by the government. It is £24.90 per week with effect from April 2015. This can be increased by up to £5.75 per week for older people in receipt of the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit.

You are not required or expected to use the Personal Expenses Allowance towards the cost of your care.

How do we work out what you have to pay?

Each financial assessment is based on your individual circumstances. To determine what this is, we will look at:
Income

  • Retirement pension
  • Private / occupational pensions
  • Welfare benefits
  • Any other form of income

Savings / capital
Most forms of savings and capital will be taken into account, for example:

  • Building society / bank account / post office account
  • ISAs
  • Bonds
  • Trust funds
  • National savings certificates
  • Stocks and shares
  • Cash
  • Premium bonds
  • Property, buildings and land
  • 50% of any joint savings for individual assessments, or 100% for joint financial assessments

The treatment of private / occupational pensions, welfare benefits and property is explained in more detail in the following sections.

Private / occupational pensions

Private / occupational pensions will be treated as income and taken into account in the financial assessment of your weekly contribution, as is your state retirement pension. However 50% of any occupational or private pension paid to a married person will be disregarded provided it is paid over to the spouse remaining in the family home.

We may also be able to increase the amount of personal expenses allowance you are allowed so that you can pay money to your spouse if there is financial hardship. To enable us to determine whether there is financial hardship your spouse will be asked to complete a separate finance form to the one you are asked to complete. Your spouse does not have to provide these details, but it would not then be possible to see if hardship exists.

Welfare benefits

Benefits you receive will be treated as income in your financial assessment. The exception to this is that, if you receive the Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance, this will be completely disregarded in your financial assessment.

The rules affecting some benefits change when someone enters a care home. If you receive Attendance Allowance this will stop 4 weeks after you enter the care home (unless you transferred to the care home from hospital, in which case the Attendance Allowance stops 4 weeks after you were admitted to hospital). However, if you are meeting the full weekly cost of your care yourself (including through a Deferred Payment Agreement) you can continue to claim Attendance Allowance.

Your home

Your home will normally be included as part of your capital in your financial assessment unless you qualify for a property disregard (see below).

Situation 1

If you have more than £23,250 in savings / capital, you will be responsible for the full weekly cost. However, once your savings / capital reduce to £23,250 your situation would change to Situation 2.

Situation 2
If your savings / capital (excluding your property) are less than £23,250 but the value of your home takes you over the £23,250, you are still responsible for the full cost. However, in this case you may be able to delay meeting some of your payments through a Deferred Payment Agreement (see below for more information), though you will still have to pay a weekly charge based on your regular income.

Situation 3

If you have savings / capital of less than £23,250 but more than £14,250 you will be assessed for a contribution made up of two elements:

  1. Your weekly income state pension, occupational pension, welfare benefits and any other form of income less your Personal Expenses Allowance
  2. An assumed level of weekly income from your savings / capital. For every £250 (or part of £250) between £14,250 and £23,250 we will add £1 to your income. This is in accordance with regulations set by government and is not related to the amount of interest you may earn on the savings / capital.
Situation 4

If your savings / capital are less than £14,250 when you enter the care home, or your savings / capital reduce to that level, they are completely ignored and your assessed contribution will be based solely on your income.

Property disregards

There are circumstances where the value of your home will be disregarded in your financial assessment:

Someone else lives in the property
If someone else lives in the property its value will be disregarded if that person is:

  • Your spouse / partner - unless you are estranged or divorced. But if you are estranged / divorced and the spouse / partner is a lone parent then the disregard still applies.
  • A relative of yours who is:
    - aged 60 or over, or
    - aged 16 or under and is a child for whom you are responsible, or
    - incapacitated (ie disabled) - in this case there are no age limits.

Discretionary disregard
The council has some limited discretion in special circumstances to disregard the value of your home when it considers it reasonable to do so. This power has to be balanced with the need to ensure that people with assets are not maintained at public expense. It may be reasonable for example to disregard the property when a person who lives there gave up their own home some time ago to look after you and now has nowhere else to live.

Twelve week property disregard
If you are assessed as needing permanent residential / nursing home care, and would be responsible for the full weekly fees because of the value of your home, you may apply for a disregard of the property for the first 12 weeks. (Please note that the only part of your finances disregarded is the property. All income and all other savings / capital will be included in your financial assessment.)

If the property is sold during the 12 week period the disregard will end on the date of the sale. At the end of the 12 weeks you may be eligible to apply for a Deferred Payments Agreement (see below).

If you wish to apply for the 12 week property disregard you should complete the form your care manager will give you and return it to: Slough Borough Council, Social Care Charges, St Martins Place, 51 Bath Road Slough SL1 3UF.
If you have any queries about the 12 week property disregard, please call 01753 772101 or 01753 772153.

Deferred payment agreement
If you have a Deferred Payment Agreement (see below) the value of your home will be disregarded in your financial assessment.

Right to Buy
You may have bought your home under the Right to Buy scheme, and it may be that you needed help from a relative in funding the discounted purchase price and as a result you are registered as the joint owner of the property. In these circumstances, unless one of the above property disregards applies to you, you will be deemed to own at least the share of the property that represents the amount of the discount earned. For example if your discount was 40% you will be deemed to own at least 40% of the property and have capital of 40% of its current value.

Deferred Payment Agreements

Deferred Payment Agreements are available to help people who would otherwise have to sell their home to pay for their care in a care home.

Subject to adequate security and acceptance of the terms and conditions, we will offer a Deferred Payment Agreement if you meet all three of the following conditions:

  1. You are assessed as needing permanent residential / nursing home care
  2. The value of your savings / capital (excluding your home) is below £23,250
  3. Your home is not disregarded in your financial assessment, eg because someone else lives there.

We may also be able to offer a Deferred Payment Agreement if you wish to use the equity in your home to pay for a more expensive care home place.

If you qualify for a Deferred Payment Agreement you must agree to a legal charge being placed on your property. This will be cleared once the amount you owe the council is paid, usually when your home is sold. There is a one off arrangement fee of £595 for making a Deferred Payment Agreement, and interest will be charged on the amount deferred.

Top-up Payments

When you are choosing a care home, we will ensure that you have at least one option that affordable within your personal budget (the amount required to pay for a care home place that will meet your assessed needs). However, you may choose an alternative home, including a more expensive setting, usually where a third party such as a relative or friend is willing and able to pay a top-up for the additional cost. We may also be able to offer a Deferred Payment Agreement if you wish to use the equity in your home to pay for a more expensive care home place.

The person paying the top-up must enter into a legally-binding agreement to pay the top-up to the council.

Fee increases and change of circumstances

Care homes normally increase their fees every year, usually in April. If a top-up is being paid in respect of your placement this may need to change when fees are increased.

Also welfare benefits are increased each year in April and your assessed contribution will therefore need to be recalculated.

If your financial circumstances change during the year, you must let us know as soon as possible. This is important to ensure you are always paying the correct charge based on your financial circumstances.

Deprivation of assets

If the council considers that you, or someone acting on your behalf, have given away some assets, for example money or your house, in order to pay less fees at the care home you will be treated as still owning the asset and you will be required to pay a higher fee. Depending on the value of the asset and the remaining assets you hold, this could be the full cost. If you cannot pay these fees the council will claim the money from the person(s) to whom you have given these assets, and legal action may be taken against yourself and the person in receipt of the assets.

Information about you

All information we hold about you will be treated as confidential and will only be disclosed with your consent. The information will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Contact information

For further information,
contact Adult Social Care Services on 01753 475111
or email adultsocialcare@slough.gov.uk