After the financial assessment has been completed, your loved one should be provided with written information from the local authority detailing how the charges are worked out, and what is payable by your loved one.
There is national guidance, called ‘Fairer Charging Guidance’, to help councils work out how much to charge for home care services. Councils must follow the fairer charging policy, but they still have quite a lot of flexibility in what they charge and prices can vary across the UK.
Charges, however, should not take your loved one’s income below the level of the Pension Guarantee Credit entitlement (plus a 25% ‘buffer’), which means that in 2015-2016 individuals should not have less than £189.00 per week to live on (for couples this is £288.56 per week).
In Wales and some areas of England, councils put a limit or ‘cap’ on domiciliary care costs. It applies to everyone deemed eligible to receive care who is part- or self-funding. So once your loved one has paid a specific amount per week for their assessed care, the council will meet the rest. Please note: this only applies to care that the local authority has assessed your loved one as needing, so it is not a generous offer of unlimited care.
Recent research from Which? (October 2013) shows that councils in England have been cutting back. Fewer local authorities now offer capped charges (one-third in 2013 compared to two-thirds in 2009). Those that do have increased the cap limit – meaning that residents pay more of their care costs, while local authorities pay less. Since 2011 it has been mandatory for Welsh councils to set weekly caps for personal care. For 2015/16 the level of the cap is £60 per week.
What happens next?
If your loved one qualifies for help with costs, they will then be offered a Personal Budget for social care, described in the next step in this guide.