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Last updated:
20/11/2017

How do I pay for social care?

What is a financial assessment?

  1. Overview
  2. What is social care?
  3. When can the local authority charge me for non-residential services?
  4. What is a financial assessment?
  5. Self-Directed Support
  6. Will I have to pay for compulsory treatment services?
  7. I’m a carer; will the local authority charge me?
  8. What if I cannot afford the charges?
  9. How can I deal with problems about charges?
  10. Can I get a Direct Payment or SDS payment?
  11. How will the local authority pay me?
  12. What can I spend SDS payment on?
  13. What are my responsbilities?
  14. When will my SDS payments end?
  15. I'm a carer; can I get SDS payments?
  16. Next steps

Where a local authority decides to charge you for social care, they must carry out a financial assessment to work out how much you can afford to pay. This is known as means testing. This will work out how much you may have to pay towards the cost of your care.

Where a local authority decides to charge you for social care, they must carry out a financial assessment to work out how much you can afford to pay. This is known as means testing.

To decide the maximum amount you can afford to contribute towards your care package, the local authority assesses your income and then deducts some costs. The costs they can deduct include:

  • Housing and council tax costs,
  • Disability-related expenditure (such as extra heating; specialist dietary or clothing needs; or purchase of equipment).

Local authorities should only take your own income into account when assessing your ability to pay for your care. However, your authority may consider that it is appropriate in some circumstances to include a proportion of a partner’s resources. Examples Convention Of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) gives are considering half of any joint finances and a partner’s contribution to some bills. However, at all times the authority must be reasonable and fair and not routinely include your partner’s income.

The local authority will look at your income to decide if you have to pay. Local authorities will take into account all the benefits you receive and but will disregard a number of other benefits or income. The full list is provided in the COSLA guidance, but the more common ones include:

  • Direct Payments for social care,
  • The mobility component of Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments,
  • Child Support Maintenance payments,
  • Child Benefit, and 
  • Child Tax Credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may reduce your benefit payments because of sanctions or because you have been overpaid. The local authority will assess you based on how much the benefit is and not what money you actually get.

You can ask your local authority to give you a copy of their Charging Policies. 

The authority should not include a non-dependant’s relative’s income but may take into account some aspects of joint benefit – some authorities state clearly that a partner’s income will be considered.

Savings and capital

The local authority will look at any savings and capital you have as well as your income. This does not include the value of the home you live in most of the time. However, any weekly income derived from any source (such as rental income) is counted.

Local authorities will set a minimum level of capital and savings that are disregarded when assessing your income. Similarly, they will have maximum levels, above which you will be asked to pay the maximum cost of your care. These levels differ across the country and so you should ask your local authority about their Charging Policy.

One additional requirement is that the contribution should not exceed the cost of providing the service. 

How will I find out about any charges?

The local authority will tell you your personal budget when they finish your care and support plan, which will show if you have anything to pay. You and the local authority will agree these charges at the end of the care and support planning process. Your personal budget should be enough to meet your needs in the care and support plan – you, your carer, or your advocate can challenge the final amounts at the planning or final stages of your personal budget. If you are not happy about the way the local authority handled your case, you may wish to complain.

The local authority will tell you your personal budget when they finish your care and support plan, which will show if you have anything to pay.

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Within this subject

  1. Overview
  2. What is social care?
  3. When can the local authority charge me for non-residential services?
  4. What is a financial assessment?
  5. Self-Directed Support
  6. Will I have to pay for compulsory treatment services?
  7. I’m a carer; will the local authority charge me?
  8. What if I cannot afford the charges?
  9. How can I deal with problems about charges?
  10. Can I get a Direct Payment or SDS payment?
  11. How will the local authority pay me?
  12. What can I spend SDS payment on?
  13. What are my responsbilities?
  14. When will my SDS payments end?
  15. I'm a carer; can I get SDS payments?
  16. Next steps
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