What care services do local authorities provide?
As well as providing places in care homes, local authorities can help you stay in your own home if you have care needs.
Services they provide include:
- home modifications
- equipment that helps with the tasks of daily living.
Local authorities may provide some of these services free to everyone who needs them. But for most care services, your local authority will only pay if your income and savings are low.
Even if you qualify for maximum funding from your local authority, you’ll usually still need to pay something towards your care costs. If you have lots of savings or a high income, you’ll probably have to meet the full cost yourself.
If you have a disability or complex medical condition that means you have healthcare needs rather than social care needs, you might qualify for NHS funding.
Find out more in our Are you eligible for NHS continuing healthcare funding? guide.
How to find out if you qualify for local authority funding for care costs
Contact the social services department of your local authority to ask for a care needs assessment. Either at the same time as the needs assessment or soon just after, your local authority will carry out a financial assessment to see if you’re eligible for funding.
If you have savings and assets of more than the amounts in this table, you’ll have to pay for your own care in full (middle column) or in part (last column):
|Region||Upper savings threshold for any local authority funding in 2020-21||Lower savings threshold for maximum local authority funding in 2020-21|
|Wales||£24,000 (care at home) or £50,000 (care in a care home)||£24,000 (care at home) or £50,000 (care in a care home)|
If your savings are above the upper limit (shown in the middle column of the table), you’ll have to pay your full care costs yourself until your savings have fallen below that threshold. However, it’s still worth contacting your local authority or trust, as you still have the right to a free care needs assessment, regardless of your financial situation.
If your savings are below the upper limit, but above the lower limit (shown in the last column), your local authority will pay some of your care costs, but you’ll also be expected to contribute out of your savings. This doesn’t apply in Wales, where there’s just one savings limit – you get no funding (above the limit), you get some help (below the limit).
Even if your savings are below the lower limit, which means you get the maximum funding from your local authority, you’ll usually still be expected to pay part of your income towards the cost of care.
Getting a local authority care needs assessment
Before they can help, your local authority must carry out a care needs assessment. It’s free and it’s your legal right to have one.
You shouldn’t be refused an assessment because the local authority thinks your needs aren’t great enough or that you won’t qualify for financial help.
The local authority will identify your care needs and check that they meet a nationally agreed set of criteria.
If you qualify for help, they have a legal duty to provide or arrange the services you need.
They will then carry out a financial assessment to work out if you should pay towards any services you need.
- Find out more about How a local authority care needs assessment works.
- If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, go to GOV.UK to find out which local authority is responsible for your assessment.
- If you live in Northern Ireland, your local Health and Social Care Trust will carry out a social care needs assessment.Find your local Health and Social Care Trust on the nidirect website
Financial assessment and eligibility
If you qualify for help, your local authority will carry out a financial assessment.
This is called a ‘means test’. It helps to work out how much you should pay towards the cost of your care.
Find out more in our Means tests for help with care costs – how they work guide.
The outcome of the financial assessment
The outcome of the financial assessment will be that the local authority will either:
- agree to meet the full cost of your care needs
- agree to meet some of the cost (and you’ll need to top up the rest)
- leave you meet the full cost of your care.
You’ll get a statement called a ‘personal budget’ that sets out the cost of the care, the amount you must pay and how much the local authority will pay.
Our guide on Self-funding your long-term care – your options has more information.
Deciding who manages your personal care budget
If you qualify for financial help, you can:
- ask your local authority to arrange the care services for you
- receive direct payments from the local authority and organise things yourself. This can give you more independence, choice and control of your care and your finances
- have a ‘mixed package’. This is where the local authority arranges some parts of your care and you receive direct payments for other parts.
If you opt for direct payments, you can ask someone else to manage your budget and organise services for you. This could be a family member, friend, care professional or an independent advocate.
Find out more in our Direct payments – arranging and paying for care guide.
What to do if you don’t agree with the local authority’s decision
You can challenge the local authority’s decision if:
- they refuse to pay for your care services
- you don’t think you’ve been offered enough support to meet your needs.
See our guide on How to challenge your local authority over your care.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.
The content of this Factsheet has been created by and is provided by The Money Advice Service and is produced under licence from them.
Please be aware there are links contained within this factsheet that may take you to external sites, we are not responsible for their content. This is a general advice and information factsheet only and should not be treated as a definitive guide and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We are not a law firm and information is not intended to create a solicitor client relationship. Law Express and The Money Advice Service does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from relying on information contained in this factsheet. This is not a substitute for legal advice and specific and personal legal advice should be taken on any individual matter. If you need more details or information about the matters referred to in this factsheet please seek formal legal or financial advice.
The Money Advice Service is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Money Advice Service does not provide a regulated service. The information and tools that the Money Advice Service provides are generic and should be of general assistance to you in managing your finances. However, the money advice service cannot recommend specific financial products and always recommends that you seek further information from an independent financial adviser, and/or further information from the providers of specific financial products.
This factsheet is correct at time of going to print. The law set out in this factsheet applies to England and Wales unless otherwise stated.