for better mental health

Health and social care rights

Explains your rights to social care, and how this differs from healthcare. Includes information on eligibility, needs assessments, financial assessments, and how local authorities may meet your needs.

The UK Government is making emergency changes to the law  and introduced new regulations to help manage coronavirus (Covid-19). This includes changes which may affect your rights to health and social care.
See our page on coronavirus and social care to find out what these changes might mean for you.

What is a financial assessment?

Unlike healthcare services provided by the NHS, social care is not always free. If the local authority provides you with support, it must assess your financial circumstances and decide whether you need to pay for some of the cost. If you do, the local authority will give you a copy of the assessment and explain how the decision was made.

Your financial assessment will generally be carried out at the same time as your needs assessment.

What does the financial assessment consider?

The assessment will look at your income and your capital. What is taken into account will depend on whether you're supported in a care home or not. Different local authorities may charge differently and you can ask for a copy of their charging policy.

What is income?

Income is usually regular payments that you receive. Most types of income will be taken into account, but a few are not.

Income includes:

  • earnings from employment
  • benefit payments
  • pensions
  • the mobility part of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Child Tax Credit.

If you have income as part of a couple, then only your share will be taken into account. The assessment cannot consider the income of your partner or family members.

What is capital?

Capital is the money or other assets that you own, for example:

  • savings
  • property
  • stocks and shares.

The assessment will add up all of your capital.

If you own a share in an asset (for example if you own a house as a couple or have savings in a joint account), the value of your share will be taken into account. The assessment cannot count assets that you don't own, for example savings of your partner.

If you own a home, the value of your home will not be taken into account if:

  • You live in your home.
  • You live in a care home, and one of the following people are living in your home:
    • your partner
    • a relative under 18 or over 60
    • a relative who is incapacitated.

How much will I need to contribute from my capital?

The law is slightly different in England and Wales:

If the total value of your capital is:

  • less than £14,250: you will not pay a contribution from your capital (but you may still be asked to pay something from your income).
  • between £14,250 to £23,250: you will pay on a sliding scale.
  • more than £23,250: you will likely be asked to pay the full cost of your care.

How much you need to contribute depends on whether or not you live in a care home.

If you live in a care home

If the total value of your capital is:

  • less than £40,000: you will not pay a contribution from your capital (but you may still be asked to pay something from your income).
  • more than £40,000: you may have to pay the full cost of your care.

If you live anywhere other than a care home

If the total value of your capital is:

  • less than £24,000: you will not pay a contribution from your capital (but you may still be asked to pay something from your income).
  • more than £24,000: you may have to make a contribution from your capital, but it will not be more than £70 per week.

Example

Maude gets support from carers twice a day, helping her clean her home and prepare meals. She lives at home with her partner, Arun, in a house valued at £350,000 and no mortgage. Maude also has a joint bank account with Arun worth £20,000.

The local authority assesses Maude’s finances. The value of her home is not taken into account as she is living there. Fifty percent of the joint savings will be taken into account, so Maude’s total capital will be £10,000.

How much of my income do I have to pay?

The local authority must leave you with enough money to live on and cannot reduce your income to below a minimum amount.

If you're in a care home, this is £24.90 per week in England and £28.50 in Wales.

If you're not in a care home, the minimum amount will depend on:

  • whether you're in England or Wales
  • your age
  • whether you're single or part of a couple
  • whether you have children.

Do I need to have a financial assessment?

In some circumstances, you may not need a full assessment. This might be because it's clear that:

  • you cannot pay anything towards your care, for example because of your benefit entitlement
  • your capital is above the limit
  • the cost of the support you receive is very small.

Are any services free?

Some social care cannot be charged for, for example:

  • equipment or minor adaptations to the home
  • a limited period of support to allow someone to regain the ability to live at home
  • aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act. If you receive support after a period in hospital under section, your local authority must be clear what support is provided under section 117.
  • transport to a day centre (Wales only).

This information was published in February 2018. We will revise it in 2020.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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