After you’ve had the care needs assessment, and you have a care and support plan that’s been agreed between you and your local authority, there will be a financial assessment, also known as a means test.

This is where your local authority will ask you about your finances and income to work out if you need to contribute to your care.

Certain types of income, such as money from certain disability benefits may not be counted in the means test, but all other income and assets can be.

The means test will also assume that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, even if you aren’t claiming them.

To find out if you’re receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, you can use a benefits calculator.

If you and someone else hold capital together, like a savings account for example, this will be divided equally between both of you.

People can be concerned that if they need to pay for their own care that they will have to sell their house to pay for it. The financial assessment may only include the value of your property if you need to move permanently into a care home or assisted living.

If you need care to stay in your own home, the financial assessment will not include the value of your property.

Financial assessments have three main points that need to be considered:

  1. All financial assessments must look at the capital you have. If you have below £14,250, the local authority will not ask you to contribute towards your care.

Between £14,250 - £23,250, there is a sliding scale that allows local authorities to ask you to contribute to your care

For every £250 over the £14,250 threshold the council can ask you to make a contribution of £1 a week towards your care costs.

If you have over £23,250 in assets, you will not be entitled to funding for your care & support from your local authority and will need to pay for it yourself.

Example: Clive has £16,000 in assets. This puts him over the £14,250 threshold so he will need to contribute toward his own care.

Clive is over the threshold by £1,750.

As the local authority can advise you need to contribute £1 a week for every £250 Clive is over the threshold, this means he will need to pay £7 a week towards his care costs.

The money that Clive needs to contribute towards his care is called a client contribution.

  1. The second element is the assessment of any income that a person receives.

Most benefits are considered in the financial assessment process. Some are partially or fully discounted (such as DLA/PIP mobility).

  1. The charging arrangement should ensure that you keep enough money to cover the costs of any disability related needs that you may have.

When determining the client contribution you must pay the local authority must always ensure you are left with the minimum income guarantee (MIG)

Local authorities also have their own charging policies. They are entitled to set these policies out in the way that they wish to, but they must not go below the statutory responsibilities outlined in the care act. If they do go below these responsibilities their policies may not be lawful.

  • You should only be required to pay what you can afford.
  • You can never be charged more than the cost of the care package.
  • The financial assessment must be comprehensive. Local authorities cannot pick and choose what is included and what is not.
  • The financial assessment process must be clear and transparent so it is applied consistently and so that you can see how the final figure has been reached.