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Paying for social care (older people)

What is a financial assessment?

This page covers:
• What a local council financial assessment is
• Reasons why people had a financial assessment or not 
• What’s included in a financial assessment

A financial assessment is where the local council works out whether they will contribute towards someone’s care or if that person should pay for it themselves. If a person is assessed as needing to pay for all their own care, they are called a ‘self-funder’. 

 

Sharon, Income Services Manager at City of York Council, explains how local councils can help.

Sharon, Income Services Manager at City of York Council, explains how local councils can help.

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So, if somebody comes to us because their capital is reducing, what we do is we send them some information out and one of the team will give the customer or a relative to a phone call or we'll do a Zoom meeting, for example. And we ask them to provide information about their income, their capital, their bank accounts, have they got any stocks and shares and investments, any property they own.

We can give you advice. We can give you lots of information and advice, but actually to get the assessment done has to come through social services.

Do I have to have a financial assessment?

Before a financial assessment can be carried out, the local council will do a needs assessment to see what level of care is needed. See more about this in What is a needs assessment. Some people we spoke to said they knew they would be paying for all their care themselves so didn’t see the point of going through the assessment process.

 

Peter found the needs assessment helpful but refused to have a financial assessment.

Peter found the needs assessment helpful but refused to have a financial assessment.

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She said, “Well you ought to apply for an attendance allowance because she’s, there’s two levels of attendance allowance, you should, and she certainly should get the lower one.” So we applied and in fact we did get the full one, after an interview with Social Services, and of course having to go through the process of care plans and all the rest of it and at that stage I started to learn that any help you got from Social Services would be paid for on the basis of the level of income we had as a family. so I refused to participate in giving them any further details on that, because if I’m going to pay that’s my problem, I [laughs] I don’t want you fiddling about, you know what I mean?

 

Kate checked what she was entitled to but did not have a full assessment.

Kate checked what she was entitled to but did not have a full assessment.

Age at interview: 69
Sex: Female
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So, you perhaps didn't go through the assessments for either the needs or the financial assessments that…

No. I think I was aware that we wouldn't qualify, but I double check, no, I did double check, actually, when I talked to them about it. Yeah, I checked about any financial entitlement, and I registered with the Carers Agency and I talked to them. They were very good, and they told me about Attendance Allowance and also what the thresholds were, so yeah, I sort of made sure I was [laughs] up to date, I suppose by talking to them, and they're very good.

What does the financial assessment look at?

The assessment will look at income, savings, shares and other assets counted as capital. If the person receiving care is living at home, the financial assessment will not include the value of the home. 

 

Janine explains what she had to take to the financial assessment.

Janine explains what she had to take to the financial assessment.

Age at interview: 63
Sex: Female
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No, no, they don’t look at houses at all I mean because she was in her own home; the idea is they want to keep, well at that time, I’m, I don’t know what it is now, but I would think it’s the same, they wanted to keep people in their own homes because it’s more costly for them, well it is better to have people in their own homes really. So she, yeah, she had to look at all my mum’s financial things; so I had to take bank statements, any savings she’s got; my dad left her shares, he also left her an investment portfolio thing so that was still there, so she had well over £25,000 at the time, it wore down though so they didn’t contribute anything so she had to pay. But initially the way it happens with care you start off with a little bit and you end up having a lot.

 

Jacky was surprised that they counted her parents’ pre-paid funeral plans as capital.

Jacky was surprised that they counted her parents’ pre-paid funeral plans as capital.

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Female
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So then the financial assessment - that was, now this appears to be a postcode lottery, because a lot of it seems to be not set in stone but at the discretion of each council. For example, [North] Council, they, my mum and dad both had a funeral plan, which had cost about £3,500, it was through Dignity, £3,500 for each of them, but when they looked at all their finances, because you have to go through all the, you know, have to provide evidence of savings, everything, they said , “Oh well we will not allow this, you have to pay for funerals or, out of the £14,000 that will ultimately be left, so we are going to count that this £7,000 that was spent on the funeral plans as though it’s still in your parents’ account.” Now when that happened I remember Googling [laughs] good old Google, thinking “surely this can’t be right”, you know, surely you must be allowed; it’s not like giving money away, is it, having a funeral plan, it’s sort of forward planning, and my mum was always, as I said, very financially savvy over things like this, but again this is a postcode lottery. A lot of councils, a majority it seemed, would not say this and there had been moves to make it legislation that they were not allowed to disregard this, but it is councils’ discretion. And also [Town] where this was, as well as having a reputation for being one of the most stringent about what they allowed and what they didn’t allow, also the amount of money they paid to care homes, the weekly amount is one of the lowest in the country as well. So yeah, so it’s, wasn’t a good experience. But anyway basically the house of course wasn’t an issue at that stage because they were both living at home, but they had savings, because, phew, being, ah again my mum being, worked for the tax office she’d always saved, they had savings; so, so basically that was it, that was parked, and it was just like, well you come back to us in however many years when there’s no money left. So you then found out that there was no help whatsoever, that the only help was attendance allowance and being able to not pay council tax. So yes, that was quite a shock at that stage.

 

Sue explains why her mother’s house was counted as capital.

Sue explains why her mother’s house was counted as capital.

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Did you ever have a financial assessment from the local authority? You know, you’ve mentioned that the chap came in to do the needs assessment, but?

No well only in as much as we, when we said that we’d got a house that she wasn’t living in it was like well you’re not going to be eligible, because that counts as capital.

As Susan says, if a person paying for care has a home that is left empty, the value of the property will be counted as capital. But if they have a spouse or partner who remains living in the home, the value of the property is not counted. Margaret’s financial assessment for her husband did not include the house because she continued to live there.

 

Margaret asked for a financial assessment when her husband’s savings dwindled to near the threshold.

Margaret asked for a financial assessment when her husband’s savings dwindled to near the threshold.

Age at interview: 79
Sex: Female
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And then it was about a, almost a year later, he’d been in the home about a year, so I phoned up Social Services because his money had got, he’d used his savings because we’d used it for all the other things that we’d had done in the house and everything as well. So [laugh] I phoned up Social Services [laughs] but, you know, they said, “Oh thank you,” and I never heard anything [laughs] and then, so in the end my son said, “The only thing, mum, is just put it in writing, don’t even send an email, put it in writing.” So I wrote to them and I did then get a...

Anyway so somebody phoned up and made an appointment and came from Social, their finance department, and wanted to see all Joe’s, you know, all Joe’s income any health, you know any insurances he had, they wanted to know in detail what our, what our outgoings were. She didn’t really want to know anything about my income and what I’d got; she did, or she, maybe she did want to know about my income, I don’t remember that. But anyway I had to get all the paper, everything sorted out for her. Very pleasant lady, about two hours she was, she was here.

If property or money is given away, for example to children, this could be judged as something called ‘deprivation of assets’. This is where people deliberately reduce their assets to try to avoid paying for care. Some people believe there is a seven year time limit so that if assets are given away but care is not needed for at least seven years, that’s okay. But this is incorrect. There is no set time limit and everybody’s circumstances are different. Gifting money or property can also be subject to taxation. 

Sometimes other family members who are not a spouse or partner carry on living in the home. This becomes quite complicated. Anyone in this situation would need to get information from the local council about their individual circumstances. Frances found herself in this situation. Her dad lived with her and her family when he first needed care. Later, when he moved into a care home he had a financial assessment. Because her dad part-owned the house this was counted as capital.

 

Frances owned a house with her father which made the financial assessment complicated.

Frances owned a house with her father which made the financial assessment complicated.

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
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Basically, in all fairness, I don’t think they’d come across this situation before, because most houses are jointly owned between spou, you know, couples aren’t they?

Whereas this wasn’t, this was a different generation; so my dad had no financial, we had no dependence on my dad financially.

A financial assessment will consider dependents such as a wife or husband. Margaret found out through a financial assessment that she could have some money from her husband’s pension towards her household expenses.

 

When her husband moved to a care home, Margaret was allowed a portion of his pension.

When her husband moved to a care home, Margaret was allowed a portion of his pension.

Age at interview: 79
Sex: Female
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The only thing for me was, the worry was about how I was going to [laughs] how I was going to live but out of that out of the, when the financial assessment was done by Social Services, out of that it did come that I was going to, because of his pension I was going to, because I never worked full-time, apart from the short few years in my life I worked sort of, I don’t know, when the children were small I work [laughs] I didn’t work, I don’t, not very much, and then I gradually, but I never got to full-time again just because I wasn’t, there weren’t the hours available. So I suppose from my point of view I had, we relied on Joe’s pension more than, than mine so, but what came out of that was that I was going to get about £200 a month, which is not much money [laughs] but it was, I was going to be allowed that from Joe’s pension which hadn’t, I, that was a great relief to me that I hadn’t picked up that really in any of the documents that I’d read so I was very pleased about that.

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