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Ask the expert: Is the house taken into account in direct payments?

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

Each month we take a question from the Carers UK Forum and get one of our advisers to provide an expert response. First up: direct payments, and the circumstances when a house is taken into account.

You asked:Concerned comic

I receive direct payments to buy in care for my mother.

Recently a health professional enquired about who owns the house. It is my mother’s house but was put into my name many years ago, to avoid future distress and confrontation concerning members of the family who have never offered any support or care, but have received monetary gifts. What is my legal situation with regards to direct payments? I do not want to put my future security in jeopardy.

Is the house taken into account if it is in my name?

Our Adviser says:

If the direct payments are the outcome of a needs assessment for your mother, then it would be your mother who would be financially assessed to see whether she would need to contribute towards the cost, and your own income and capital would not be taken into account. Therefore if the property is in your name, it should be considered to be your capital, and therefore would not be taken into account. 

In fact, even if the direct payments are the outcome of a carer’s assessment for yourself, then if the purpose is to buy in replacement care for your mother, it would still be your mother who would be financially assessed. This is because although the replacement care might be benefiting you in the sense that it gives you a break from caring, the actual service being purchased (the replacement care) is for your mother, and therefore you cannot be charged.

If the direct payments are the outcome of a carer’s assessment for yourself, but the purpose is to purchase support directly for you as a carer (for example driving lessons or a gym membership), then it would be you as a carer who might be financially assessed to see whether you would need to contribute towards the cost. This would only be the case if your local authority is one which charges for support provided to carers. If you are living in the property then its value would be disregarded for the financial assessment anyway. The one issue that might arise is that the local authority can sometimes treat people as having capital even though they no longer have it. This is called ‘notional capital’. The local authority could decide that the person has ‘deprived themselves of capital’ if they feel the person has given capital away (for example transferred the name on the deeds of a property) in order to reduce the amount they would have to pay towards their care and support. If the local authority does think the person has ‘deprived themselves of capital’ then they would treat them as if they still had this capital (‘notional capital’), which might mean they have to pay for services that might otherwise be free.

The fact that a person has ‘given away’ capital and later needed care and support is not itself proof that they have deprived themselves of capital. The need for care or support might not have been apparent at the time, or they may have had another reason for acting the way they did. The local authority has to look at all the circumstances before it makes a decision.

This is a complicated topic and from your message it doesn’t sound like this has been raised. However if this is something the local authority mention this contact the Carers UK Adviceline for further information.

  • Carers UK Adviceline: You can talk to us five days a week, no matter where you are in the UK or how complex your query is. We do benefits checks and advise on financial and practical matters related to caring.
    0808 808 7777 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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