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You may have concerns about the costs involved in getting care and support at home. But if you have been assessed as needing care, you will also be assessed to see how much you can afford to pay towards the cost of services, while still having enough money to live on.

The amount that social services departments pay towards care on your behalf varies depending on your local authority, although there are minimum requirements.

When you have an assessment, your needs will be judged to see whether you’re eligible for services under the national eligibility criteria.

If you’re found to have eligible needs the local authority has a duty to meet those needs but can charge for services.

Financial help from social services

If the council has assessed you and you need care and support, you will then be means tested to see how much you need to contribute, if anything, and how much the council will pay towards it.

Personal budgets

Depending on which area you live in, you may have the option of using a personal budget to meet your needs. A personal budget aims to change the way in which services are assessed for, funded and arranged. It gives you more control and choice over the help you receive. From April 2015, everyone will have a personal budget.

The amount of money in your personal budget depends on the needs identified in your care plan. It's designed to allow you to arrange your care in the way you think is best, with appropriate support.

You could choose to hire a carer directly, or you might prefer social services to arrange your care for you in the traditional way. Discuss your options with social services before making a decision.

New pension rules mean that those who employ their own carers using either their own money or money from their personal budget may now be legally obliged to contribute towards a pension for them. You may need to take this into account if you decide to hire a carer or carers directly and pay them more than £10,000 per year. If you hire a carer through an agency, or if the local authority arranges your care for you, then you won’t need to pay money into a pension. If you have a carer and they earn less than £10,000 a year, this also won’t apply. For more information, contact The Pensions Regulator on 0845 600 1011.

Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment

If you’re 65 or over and need help with personal care tasks such as eating, getting in and out of bed, going to the toilet, and washing, you might be able to claim Attendance Allowance (AA).

There are two rates of AA, depending how your disability or illness affects you. Social services can take into account whether you are receiving AA when they are assessing you for financial help with community care.

If you’re under 65 and need help with personal care or moving around, you may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

PIP is divided into two components. The daily living component may be taken into account when social services assesses your care needs.

PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If you were claiming DLA before PIP came in, you will continue to receive it until at least 2017, when you may be reassessed for PIP. DLA is divided into two components. The care component may be taken into account when social services assesses you.

Paying for your own care and support

If you’re not eligible for financial help from the council, you’ll have to fund your own care. However, you are still entitled to advice from your local social services department about how best to meet your needs. And from April 2015, you’ll be able to pay the council to arrange your services for you. It can only charge you as much as someone whose care they are funding.

Further information

Downloads

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For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565