Social care and support guide
Paying for your own care (self-funding)
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You will not be entitled to help with the cost of care from your local council if:
- you have savings worth more than £23,250
- you own your own property (this only applies if you're moving into a care home)
You can ask your council for a financial assessment (means test) to check if you qualify for any help with costs.
Read more about the financial assessment.
You can choose to pay for care yourself if you don't want a financial assessment.
How to arrange your care as a self-funder
- arrange and pay for care yourself without involving the council
- ask the council to arrange and pay for your care (the council will then bill you, but not all councils offer this service and they may charge a fee)
Find out what care you need
Even if you choose to pay for your care, your council can do an assessment to check what care you might need. This is called a needs assessment.
For example, it'll tell you whether you need home help from a paid carer for 2 hours a day or 2 hours a week and precisely what they should help you with.
The needs assessment is free and anyone can ask for one.
How much will care cost?
Social care can be expensive. Knowing how much you'll have to pay will help you budget.
Paying for carers at home
A typical hourly rate for a carer to come to your home is around £20, but this will vary depending on where you live.
Having a carer who lives with you costs from around £650 a week. But it can cost as much as £1,600 a week if you need a lot of care.
Read about how to arrange home care.
Paying for a care home
There are 2 types of care home:
- residential homes have staff that help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed and supply all your meals
- nursing homes also offer 24-hour nursing care
A room in a care home costs:
- £600 a week in a residential home
- £840 a week in a nursing home
The price will vary according to where you live and the type of care you need.
For example, serious health problems like dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can increase the cost.
Read about choosing a care home.
Benefits can help with care costs
You may be eligible for benefits, like Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which aren't means-tested.
You can use them to pay towards the cost of your care.
Read about benefits for under-65s.
Read about benefits for over-65s.
Can I avoid selling my home?
You won't have to sell your home to pay for help in your own home.
But you may have to sell your home to pay for a care home, unless your partner carries on living in it.
Sometimes selling your home to pay care home fees is the best option.
But there may be other ways to pay care home fees if you don't want to sell your home straight away.
Releasing money from your home (equity release)
Equity release lets you take money that's tied up in your home without selling it. It's available if you're over 55.
But you have to pay interest on the money you take out, which can be expensive.
The Money Advice Service has more information on equity release.
Renting out your home
You can rent out your home and use the income to help pay your care home fees.
A deferred payment scheme
A deferred payment scheme can be useful if you have savings less than £23,250 and all your money is tied up in your property.
The council pays for your care home and you repay it later when you choose to sell your home, or after your death.
Ask your council if you're eligible for a deferred payment scheme.
You can get more information from:
- the Money Advice Service: deferred payment schemes
- Independent Age: guide to care home fees and your property
Get expert financial help
You can get unbiased expert advice from a specialist care fees adviser.
They'll help you compare all your options before you decide what's right for you.
Find a specialist care fees adviser in your area with:
- PayingForCare, a free information service for older people
- the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) on 0333 2020 454
Get advice on paying for care from:
- Age UK on freephone 0800 169 6565
- Independent Age on freephone 0800 319 6789
- the Money Advice Service on freephone 0800 138 7777
If your savings run out
If your savings fall below £23,250, your council might be able to help with the cost of care.
Contact your local council about 3 months before you think your savings will drop to below £23,250 and ask them to reassess your finances.
Councils provide funding from the date you contact them. You won't be reimbursed if your savings are less than £23,250 before you contact them.
What you can get for free
You might be able to get some free help regardless of your income or if you're paying for your care.
This can include:
- small bits of equipment or home adaptations that each cost less than £1,000
- NHS care, such as NHS continuing healthcare, NHS-funded nursing care and care after you have been discharged from hospital
Read more about care and support you can get for free.
Page last reviewed: 08/08/2018
Next review due: 08/08/2021