What you need to know about this obscure but important part of the residential care funding rules. It is important because many people who are entitled to it do not claim it – not surprising since they do not know about it.
What is it?
A provision that the local authority will pay the bills for 12 weeks of care in a residential home when a person is in care and owns a property in which no dependant is living.
Who should get it?
Anyone who owns a property and has under £23,250 in other assets (e.g Cash deposits in banks and building societies). The idea is that this gives them time to sell their home and get the money, though in practice property sales often take longer than 12 weeks.
How much should they get?
If they are already in a care home, they should get 12 weeks of the care costs paid. The average care home with nursing costs in the South West is £830 per week, in which case the total cost would be £9,900. If they are about to enter a home, they should have their bills paid for the first 12 weeks of their residency.
It should be noted that the amount the Local authority will pay can vary region to region, as each area has set rates. If somebody is already in care a top may still be required. (CRAG 11.011)
When should they get it?
When they apply to their local authority. They can do this when their assets are below the relevant level. They can already be in a care home, and have been paying fees, when they apply, but can also apply before entering care – for example, when leaving their home because they are no longer capable of living alone. A few care homes will handle applications to a local authority on behalf of a resident.
Why don’t people get it?
Most people do not know about the rule. Local authority representatives do know, but may not meet people in the circumstances when they are entitled to it. Council budgets are under huge pressure and councils do not appear to make much effort to make people aware of the rule. Social workers generally do not always fully understand this and other financial rules regarding care funding. As for care homes, many care home staff do not know the rules. The result is that people who are entitled to the benefit do not meet anyone who could advise them on this, such as a member of Solicitors for the Elderly or the Society Of Later Life Advisers.
The rules are contained in the Charges for Residential Accommodation Guide (or CRAG) 7.004 – 7.006
Age UK also provide excellent information guides covering many matters relating to care which can be found on their website www.ageuk.org
Ian Evans is a director of FiveWays Financial Planning in Worle, Weston-super-Mare. He specialises in financial advice for the elderly and is an accredited member of the Society Of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA)