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More than a third of care home residents self-funding

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Some 36.7% of care home residents were self-funding their care between 2019 and 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The percentage equates to 143,774 care home residents – this compares to 248,153 who are state-funded.

Currently anyone with more than £23,350 in assets must meet their care costs in full. The ONS found the South East had the highest proportion of self-funders (45.4%) and the North East had the lowest (24.6%),

But experts say that house prices alone don’t explain regional differences. London may have the highest house prices, but it had the second lowest proportion of self-funders.

Last month the government announced the Health and Social Care Levy. As part of this the government introduced an £86,000 care cap on care costs though people must still find money to cover accommodation costs. People with assets up to £100,000 will also receive some state help from April 2023.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Today’s figures show the sheer scale of the number of people who are paying the astronomical costs of care. Almost 150,000 people are having to foot the bill, and homeowners, in high property value areas, are particularly affected.

“If you’re paying for care, finding the money to pay for this over the long term can cause real strain on family finances. While recent government announcements mean more people will get some help from the state, it won’t cover all the associated costs of care, so there will still be bills to pay. This help doesn’t start until April 2023 either, and if you already need care, or you need it between now and then, you won’t be entitled to this extra support from the state.”

GMB Union says the ONS figures show that self-funding carers are propping up a ‘broken system’. The union says years of inadequate local authority funding for the care sector has forced many families who pay for a loved one’s care into financial hardship.

A previous GMB investigation into social care debt carried out by GMB in 2018 revealed at least 166,000 people were trapped in debt for their social care, with more than 78,000 having debt management procedures started against them and more than 1,000 facing court proceedings.

Pete Davies, GMB senior organiser, said: “The under-funding and exploitation of our care system has weighed heavy on those who find themselves having to pay for their own care. Many people are paying far above the rate that a local authority would pay for the same service.

“Ultimately, they are paying over the odds and often being plunged into debt to prop up a broken system – one that relies on gross injustice to generate bloated profits for shadowy private companies.

“Often care is commissioned by the minute, which means care workers don’t even get an hourly minimum wage – this further highlights why the care sector needs fixing now. Care workers can’t survive on empty promises by a government that is turning away from the elderly and most vulnerable in our communities whilst refusing to recognise the highly skilled workforce. GMB is campaigning for at least £15 an hour for care workers.”

Will you need to pay for care?

In England, if you have assets of less than £14,250, the council may pay for your long-term care, although it will also take your income into account. It will do a needs assessment, and a means test to check your assets, and if you qualify on both counts it will arrange the level of care it decides you need.

If you’re getting care at home, or only going into a home temporarily, the means test will not include your home. If you’re going into a care home permanently, it may include the home, unless someone from specific groups also lives there. This includes your partner, any of your children under the age of 18, or a relative who is disabled or over the age of 60.

If you have between £14,250 and £23,250 you will have to contribute to the cost of care, but if you have assets of more than £23,250, you’ll need to foot the entire bill.