When can the Trust charge me for non-residential services?
This section covers:
- Which services can the Trust charge me for?
- How much can the Trust charge me?
- How will the Trust treat my income and savings?
- How will I find out about charges?
Which services can the Trust charge me for?
Care at home
The Trust can charge you for the service that is provided to you in your home. In Northern Ireland, most Community Care is free of charge, with HSC Trusts only charging for the ‘home help’ scheme and the ‘meals on wheels’ service. The charge for ‘meals on wheels’ is non-means tested, so you pay a flat rate. If you are aged over 75, your ‘home help’ will be free, otherwise the charge will be calculated depending on your level of savings and assets.
How much can the Trust charge me?
The rate for ‘meals on wheels’ is flat and does not depend on your income or savings – this differs between local Trusts and is £2 - £3 per meal. The ‘home help’ charges (if you’re below 75) can vary – there is no regional guidance around how the Trusts should charge for services in the community, as historically, most of them have been free of charge in NI. This means that the services that are free will be free for everyone, no matter what assets or earnings they have.
Services that are free will be free for everyone, no matter what assets or earnings they have.
An assessment is carried out for the ‘home help’ scheme only – in this case, the Trust will look at your savings and income to see how much you should pay.
What is a financial assessment?
Where the Trust decides to charge you for the ‘home help’, they must carry out a financial assessment and this will work out how much you can afford to pay. The Trust will assess you as an individual and should not take your partner’s income into account, but you will need to give the local Trust information about your income and capital.
The Law Centre NI ‘Introduction to Community Care’ leaflet states that: ‘In Northern Ireland, local Trusts have discretion to charge for domiciliary services. Under Article 15 (4) of HPSS'72 allows social services to recover any charges the trust considers appropriate in respect of any services provided under Article 15’.
‘There is no specific legislation regulating the imposition of charges for domiciliary services, aside from the general provisions of the Health and Personal Social Services (NI) Order 1972. This means that there can be inconsistencies in the manner in which trusts throughout Northern Ireland approach charging for such services’.
Read more from the 'Introduction to Community Care leaflet'.
How are my income and savings treated?
The Trust will look at your income to decide if you have to pay – if you have joint savings or investments, the Trust should divide them into portions and treat only part of the income as yours.
What is notional income?
Notional income is the money that you may not be getting but the Trust includes in the financial assessment. Notional income might be:
- Income you would be entitled to but have to apply for, like a pension,
- Income that is due to you but you don’t have yet, or
- Income you got rid of on purpose to reduce how much you have to pay – this is called ‘deprivation of assets’ and can include giving money away as a gift, going on expensive holidays or spending more money than usual on your lifestyle, so going out more or shopping a lot to spend extra money.
Savings and capital
The Trust will also look at any savings or capital you have – they will not be looking at your home in charging for community care, but may take it into account while charging for Residential Care. You can find more information about charges for residential care in the ‘Paying for Residential Care’ section.
- What is social care?
- When can the Trust charge me for non-residential services?
- I am a carer; will the Trust charge me?
- What if I cannot afford the charges?
- How can I deal with problems about charges?
- What are direct payments?
- Can I get direct payments?
- How will the local Trust pay me?
- What can I spend direct payments on?
- What are important things to know about managing Direct Payments?
- When will my direct payments end?
- Next steps