Quote Ref: WS1

Care home fees cap

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At least part of the cost of residential care of the elderly in the UK may come under the control of new rules to be introduced by the government, reported the Telegraph newspaper on the 8th of March 2018.

The new rules cap the amount of “hidden” charges levied by many care homes, sometimes continuing after the resident has died – one of the practices condemned in a recent report on the cost of long-term care by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The problem

The population of Britain continues to grow, but it is also getting older. 18% of the population is over the age of 65 and 2.4% over 85 years of age – according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Little wonder, therefore, that increasing numbers of people are worried about the cost of long-term residential care as they become older. The scale of those costs, of course, depends on a host of factors, including the level of assistance and care you may need, your overall mobility and state of health and how much you have in the way of assets, income and savings, explains the Money Advice Service.

Moreover, if your assets – including the family home – exceed £23,500, you are unlikely to receive any help at all with the costs from your local authority. 

But do not be tempted to stay under this limit – and, therefore, get local authority help with the fees – by divesting yourself of assets by passing them on to your children. It might be considered “deliberate deprivation” – which we have warned about in an article published in our knowledge base.

Care home fees cap

The government has a difficult balancing act to perform in any attempt to cap the fees charged by care homes.

On the one hand, it wants to reduce the financial burden for the many residents whose assets deny them the opportunity for local authority assistance, yet must also recognise that care homes themselves are struggling financially. 

The recent announcement by the minister responsible for residential care amounts to a warning about some of the fees charged by homes, rather than an outright ban – which might still need to be introduced if the industry itself does not rein in some of the worst practices. However, the government needs to tread carefully, since previous attempts to cap the cost of residential care – through the so-called “dementia tax”, for example – have led to losses at the ballot box.

The type of charges currently under the microscope focus on those residential and nursing fees which continue to be applied by some homes even after the resident has died – and there is no longer anyone being nursed. Yet these fees are sometimes charged for up to a month after the resident has died.

Another example is the practice of charging an administration fee, in advance, on the first day that the resident enters the home. It is not related to any residential cost or the provision of other services, but simply an additional charge – and one that is levied even if the resident’s stay in the home is very short.

A further article, also published by the Telegraph newspaper (on the 3rd of March 2018), cited one correspondent who had needed to pay an administration fee of £6,000 just to move into the home and ended up paying a total of £11,000 for just a six-week stay.