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Four in five families ‘eligible for more care funding than they realise’

House value is excluded from home care means test

Many families could be unaware of the care funding options they are already eligible for, research suggests.

Research by live-in care company Elder found that up to 83% of families are able to pay for care with some form of funding they hadn’t necessarily expected they were entitled to.

The findings, based on 2,268 families who used Elder’s care funding calculator tool, found just under half (46%) of families are potentially entitled to direct payments from their local council, although this varied across the country.

Eligibility for direct payments, where families take control of local authority entitlements, was highest in the North East, where savings are lower. The second was Scotland, although the calculator uses an algorithm based on English thresholds.

Because of high property values, London and the South East both vied for the best places to fund care by unlocking the value of the home. The capital came out top with just under 70% of people likely to be eligible.

Equity release seemed to be a suitable option for 65% of respondents, however for NHS continuing healthcare, the only public funding stream that covers care costs in full, just 6% were deemed likely to pass the assessments.

The tool assumes families are looking for live-in care – an alternative to the care home where a dedicated carer moves into a spare room. 

This means the calculations exclude the value of the home in the hypothetical means test, as per rules around care in the home. Excluding the property value from the evaluation of assets means that eligibility for council funding could be much higher than many realise, Elder said.

Pete Dowds, chief executive of Elder, said it is important that families get a clear understanding of the funding opportunities they’re already eligible for.

“Crucial to that is the difference between the means test for home care versus traditional care home assessments,” he added. “Many don’t understand that, with home care, the value of your home is excluded from the means test. This means you’re more likely to get funding from your local authority and you’ll be able to use some of the value of the home to top up, as required. This gives families a sustainable way to get the care they want, which for 97% of people is in their own homes.”