Paying for long term residential or nursing care arranged by social care services

This information is for adults who have been assessed as needing to move to a residential or nursing home and who are seeking help from Adult Social Care Department to pay towards the costs.

The Local Authority must charge for places they arrange in residential or nursing homes. The amount you will have to contribute to the cost of that care will depend on your own individual circumstances, how much income and savings you have, and usually any property you own.

Only a brief overview can be given here as this is a complex subject.  You will be contacted by our Finance Visiting Officers, who will collect information on your financial circumstances, and then carry out a financial assessment.

Yes, everyone has a social care services financial assessment. This financial assessment will determine how much you pay towards your home fees and whether you are eligible for help from the Council towards these costs.

Whether you are eligible for help will depend upon the level of your savings, income, and any property you have an interest in.

If you have capital such as savings or investments over £23,250, either in your own right or as your share of capital held jointly with a spouse/partner, you will have to pay the full cost of the residential care or nursing home.

If you have less than £23,250, either in your own right or as your share of any capital held jointly with a spouse/partner, you will pay an assessed contribution towards the cost of your residential care or nursing home.  

Capital of less than £14,250 is ignored. However, if you have capital between £14,250 - £23,250 Councils must apply a tariff income. This assumes that you can afford to pay £1 for every £250 between these amounts. This will form part of your contribution towards the cost of your care home.

The level of your weekly income will determine whether you are eligible for financial help from the Social Care Department towards the cost of the care home and how much you will have to contribute.  
When assessing your contribution towards the cost, generally, all of your income is considered.  Most benefits such as Retirement Pension, Income Support, Guarantee Pension Credit, count in full.  However some benefits such as the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance are disregarded completely.
The following are examples of other income that has a partial disregard (there are others):

  • Pension Savings Credit  - If you receive savings credit then up to £5.75 per week will be ignored.

  • Occupational/Personal Pensions we will ignore 50% of these pensions when assessing your contribution to pay for care home costs if :
    • You are supporting your spouse; AND
    • Your spouse is not living in the same residential or nursing home; AND
    • You are passing on at least 50% of the pension.

The financial assessment will also take into account whether you own property, usually your house. The value of the property will not be taken into account for the first 12 weeks of your permanent placement, but will then be assessed as a capital asset.   Under certain circumstances it might be necessary for you to sell the house to pay the cost of the care home. 

The value of your house will be disregarded if it is occupied as the main or only home by the following, continuously since before you went into a care home:

(i) your partner, former partner or civil partner, except where you are estranged;

(ii) a relative e.g. parent, son/daughter, who is:

  • Aged 60 or over, or
  • Is a child of the resident aged under 18, or
  • Is incapacitated.

For further information see A Guide to the Deferred Payment Scheme.

If you qualify for help from Adult Social Care Department you will be notified of how much you have to contribute towards the cost of the care home.
You will be left with a personal expenses allowance of £24.90 per week after you have contributed towards the cost. This allowance can be spent how you wish, and can be used to purchase personal items such as clothes, toiletries, etc.
The personal expenses allowance is your legal entitlement and no one may withhold it from you. 

You should inform the Department of Work and Pensions when you move into a care home and of any subsequent changes in circumstances.  
If Social Care Services are helping to pay the care home costs, any Attendance Allowance or the care component of Disability Living Allowance will usually stop after four weeks (or sooner if you have previously been a hospital in-patient or Council funded respite accommodation). If you receive the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance this will continue to be paid.

You should not move into the residential or nursing home until the funding allocation meeting has agreed the level of service, and has given a commitment to assist you with your costs.  If you move into the home without Panel approval there can be no guarantee that Social Care Department will help with the costs of your care.

Sefton’s Residential and Nursing Home fees are set by the Council annually in line with the budget process, however some homes charge a higher rate than this. If you choose to go to one of these homes, you and your family will need to pay the difference between Sefton’s set rate and the rate charged by the home. This arrangement is known as a third party top up.

There are some circumstances when you do not need help from the Social Care Department towards the cost of your care home.   This is likely to be where you have enough savings (over £23,250) to pay the cost yourself.   In these circumstances you should seek welfare rights advice to ensure that you are receiving the correct amount of welfare benefits.
Where you require nursing care and are paying the cost yourself, then it may be possible to receive a contribution from the Health Authority towards the nursing home fees, your care home manager will be able to give you further advice on this.

If you are dissatisfied with your financial assessment please discuss this with your Finance Visiting Officer who will explain the appeals process.

Any assets or income may not be given away in order to reduce care costs.   If this has occurred the local authority may treat you as if you still had the asset.


Third party top-ups for residential or nursing care 2015-16 (pdf 75KB)
DPS Factsheet - Useful Information (word 22KB)
DPS Factsheet - Rental (word 24KB)
DPS Factsheet - Guide to Deferred Payments (word 25KB)