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Ask the expert: paying for residential care

No matter how complex your emotions or your circumstances, the Carers UK Adviceline is here to give you the information you need.

Each month we take a question from the Carers UK Forum and get one of our advisers to provide an expert response. This month Jen from the Carers UK Adviceline responds to a carer in England who is concerned about being asked to sell their home to pay for their husband's residential care fees.


You asked:

My husband has dementia and the local council social services department have suggested that my husband moves into residential care. They are asking for all our financial information and I am worried they will make us sell our home either now or in the future to pay for the residential care fees. Any advice would be welcome.


Adviceline

Our Adviser says:

Your husband moving into residential care is bound to cause you worry, but hopefully we can allay some of your fears about your home.

If your husband does go into residential care, then the local council would have to carry out a financial assessment on him, which would be to work out whether they (the local council) need to contribute towards the cost of the residential care fees

This will be why they have asked for financial information. However they can only look at your husband’s income and capital, plus half of anything in a joint account or which is jointly owned. Any income or capital which is yours would be disregarded.

The local council would look to see if your husband has any capital. If he does, and if that capital is over £23,250, then he would have to pay the full cost of the residential care fees.

Properties can sometimes count as ‘capital’ and so if your husband owns or jointly owns a property, the local council would assess whether the value of this property can be taken into account in the financial assessment, or whether the property must be ‘disregarded’. If it is disregarded it cannot be taken into account, both now and for as long as the disregard applies.

One of the circumstances in which a property must be disregarded is if it is still the main or only home of the person’s partner, and has been since before the person went into residential care.

Therefore, assuming that you live in the property now, and will continue to live there if your husband does move into residential care, the property must be disregarded. This means its value won’t be taken into account for as long as you continue to live there. Any contribution the local council make towards the residential care fees while the property is disregarded won’t be claimed back from the value of the property in the future. If however at some point in the future the property is no longer disregarded (for example if you were to move out), then it would count as capital and your husbands contribution might increase.

This is not the only circumstance in which a property must be disregarded, and it is always worth seeking advice for your particular situation. 

I do hope this helps explain the situation. To get further expert advice contact the Carers UK Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note: this information is correct for carers living in England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland please get in touch with your local Carers UK office.

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