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Personal and household finance

Funding care

The person you look after may choose to pay for their own home care. Alternatively, they may find that they need to pay for care because they’re not eligible for full help from their local authority. Private care can be expensive, so it’s important to think about how this will be paid for. Also make sure that you and the person you care for are getting all the support you’re entitled to.

If someone has a long-term illness or disability that requires care, this is likely to be a long-term cost. If they have a progressive condition, the cost of care may increase as their needs change.

Read more about budgeting tips and banking tips for carers.

Below is a checklist of things to think about when planning to pay for care.

Help from social services

Even if the person you care for has assets or savings, help may be available through a social services assessment for them and an assessment for you as their carer. A person’s right to an assessment depends on their needs rather than their finances. Although some types of social services help are means-tested, there are items that local authorities must provide free of charge to everyone. Even if the person you care for isn’t entitled to local authority help, they may still be able to get advice and information about organising their own support.

If you’re not offered social services support and you believe that this decision is wrong, you can make a complaint.

NHS continuing care

People who have very severe or complex health needs can be eligible for free ‘continuing care’ from the NHS.

Claim any benefits you’re eligible for

Get a full benefits check to make sure you’re both claiming everything that you’re entitled to. You may be able to do this through a local Citizens Advice Bureau, welfare rights organisation or carers centre. To find your nearest source of help, speak to one of our helpline advisors or search our online directory.

Other financial help

Find out if you or the person you care for are eligible for any help with health costs, utility bills, TV licence discounts or VAT relief for disabled people.

Pensions

The person you care for may have paid into a pension scheme that they’re not accessing. You can find out about the government’s pension tracing service on GOV.UK.

Grants

There are benevolent societies that give grants to people who have been employed in particular industries or services, or people who have a specific need or disability. Turn 2 Us is a charity that can help you find out whether you or the person you care for are eligible for any help of this kind. There is a list of benevolent funds on the Times website.

Practical support

Help may be available from other sources, for example, there might be a voluntary group that provides a sitting service or a peer support group. For information about support in your area, a local carers centre is a good place to start. You can find carers centres and other help by searching our carers directory or calling our helpline.

Friends and family can also form a valuable part of your support network. Other people may not be aware that you would appreciate their help, or they may not know what sort of help to offer – try suggesting ways they could get involved and provide regular support.

Budgeting

The person you care for may be able to save money in other ways. The Money Advice Service has online tools that can give you a clearer picture about your money, and general tips on improving your financial health. The Money Advice Service also offers tools to help with day-to-day financial planning, including a budget planner, a cutback calculator and a financial productions comparison table to help you work out where you could save money.

Savings and investments

If the person you look after has savings or other assets, they may think about using these to pay for their own care. It’s worth getting independent financial advice before doing this. FirstStop provides free, independent information and advice about care, housing, finance and rights for older people. You can also find information about getting help with money decisions on the Money Advice Service website.

Property

If the person you care for owns their own property, they might consider selling up and moving to somewhere smaller or less expensive. It’s worth remembering that moving can involve significant costs. If there’s a possibility that the person you care for might need residential care in the near future, they may want to avoid the upheaval of moving before then.

If they're aged 55 or older and are thinking of moving to save money, they could consider an equity-release scheme. This way, they could raise money from their home while still living in it, either by taking out a loan that’s secured against their home, or by selling all or part of it. Equity-release schemes can be helpful for people in some situations, but there can be drawbacks, such as reduced eligibility for benefits. The Money Advice Service provides impartial advice about money matters and it has produced a guide to equity release schemes. 

Always get independent financial advice before using property to pay for care.

If your situation changes

Changes in your circumstances could mean that you and the person you care for are entitled to more financial and practical help from the sources listed above.

For example, if someone’s condition worsens, they may meet social services' eligibility criteria for support. Financial changes can also be relevant. If an eligible person’s savings fall below a certain level, they may be able to get local authority help for free or at a reduced cost. However, this won’t apply if the local authority thinks that they have deliberately disposed of their savings in order to get help. Ask your local authority for a reassessment if your situation changes.

Changes in circumstances can also affect your benefit entitlement. A full benefits check will ensure that you’re getting all the help that you’re entitled to.

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Page last reviewed: 27/02/2012

Next review due: 27/02/2014

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