The Care Act significantly reforms care and support.
It will introduce a new national minimum threshold for access to care and support. The Care Act also gives legal rights for carers for support – for people who provide care and support on an unpaid basis to family or friends.
Main features of the Care Act:
- A universal right to a deferred payment agreement – the intention is to give people peace of mind, choice and control when they enter residential care and to ensure no one has to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care.
- New rights for support for carers – carers are usually family and friends who provide unpaid care and support to loved ones. These may be eligible for support.
- The Care Act protects against sudden changes in care and support when a person moves from one local authority area to another. The Act seeks to ensure that a person who moves local authority area does so with no interruption to their care. This is known as ‘portability of care’.
- The implementation of phase 2 of the Care Act, including the introduction of a cap on lifetime costs for eligible care needs, has now been deferred by the Government to 2020.
Frequently asked questions
What is care and support?
‘Care and support’ is the term used to describe the help some adults need to live as well as possible with any illness or disability they may have. It can include help with things like getting out of bed, washing, dressing, getting to work, cooking meals, eating, seeing friends, caring for families and being part of the community.
It might also include emotional support at a time of difficulty and stress, helping people who are caring for an adult family member or friend or even giving others a lift to a social event.
Care and support includes the help given by family and friends, as well as any provided by the council or other organisations.
What is changing?
From April 2015, care and support in England is changing for the better. The new Care Act will help make care and support more consistent across the country.
The new national changes are designed to put you in control of the help you receive. Any decisions about your care and support will consider your wellbeing and what is important to you and your family, so you can stay healthy and remain independent for longer.
Most changes were introduced in April 2015, with the rest now due in April 2020. As part of the 2020 changes we will provide more financial help for those who need it and people with modest means will benefit too. There will also be a new form of protection from unlimited care costs – you may have heard this referred to as the cap on care costs.
What was wrong with the old system?
As people are now living longer and with a better quality of life, the care and support needs they have are different. The way care and support is provided has to change to reflect this. A new Care Act has been passed to make care and support, and the way we pay for it, clearer, easier to access and more consistent across the whole of England.
Will the changes affect me?
You may benefit from the changes to care and support if you:
- receive care and support from your council or another organisation, either at home or in a care home;
- give unpaid care and support to an adult family member or friend;
- think you may need care and support in the near future, either for yourself or for someone you help.
How will the changes make things better?
The changes mean that more people will be able to get the care and support they need, either from the council or from other organisations in the community. Different ways to pay for care and support will be available across the whole of England, so people should not have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care. People who receive care and support from the council will have more say over what sort of help they get and there will also be more help available for people who give unpaid care and support to an adult family member or friend.
From April 2020 financial support will be available to more people, and everyone will be protected from unlimited care and support costs.
What’s the difference between care and support from the council and the care I receive at home from NHS?
Care and support organised by the council can include help with everyday things like washing and dressing, getting in and out of bed, and keeping your home clean and safe.
As well as care and support organised by us, some people are also eligible to receive help from the NHS. This help may be a nursing service for people who are ill or recovering at home after leaving hospital. It could include things like changing the dressings on wounds or giving medication. If you are eligible for this kind of help, a health professional such as your GP or Community Nurse should be able to tell you.
In exceptional circumstances, where an adult has a complex medical condition and substantial on-going care needs, the NHS provides a service called NHS Continuing Healthcare. NHS Continuing Healthcare provides care and support in a person’s home, care home or hospice.
Deferred payment agreement
What is a deferred payment agreement?
A deferred payment agreement is an arrangement with the council that will enable people to use the value of their homes to help pay care home costs. If you are eligible, we will help to pay your care home bills on your behalf. You can delay repaying us until you choose to sell your home, or until after your death.
Deferred payment agreements will suit some people’s circumstances better than others’.
Who is eligible for a deferred payment agreement?
Deferred payment agreements will suit some people’s circumstances better than others’ and not everyone will be eligible. You should be eligible for a deferred payment agreement if:
- you are receiving care in a care home (or you are going to move into one soon);
- you own your own home (unless your partner or certain others live there);
- you have savings and investments of less than £23,250 (not including the value of your home or your pension pot).
When will I have to repay the deferred payment agreement?
You can sell your home and repay the deferred payment agreement at any point. Or you can have a deferred payment agreement for the full length of your stay in a care home and pay it back out of your estate, following your death.
How much can I defer?
The amount you can defer will depend on the value of your home, which determines your ‘equity limit’. As a guide, most people can use around 80-90% of the equity available in their home. The limit on equity is to protect you from not having enough money to pay sale costs of the property (like solicitor’s fees,) and to protect the council against a drop in housing prices and the risk that we may not get all of the money back.
What if my husband/wife/civil partner lives in my house?
If you need care in a care home but your partner lives in your own home then the council will consider your partner’s circumstances as well as your own. Depending on your partner’s circumstances, we may decide to exclude the value of your home when we assess your finances to work out how much you will have to pay towards the costs of your care. This means that you will not face having to sell your home to pay for care and will not need a deferred payment agreement.
If your partner has circumstances that mean the council decides that the value of your home is not excluded, you should still be able get a deferred payment agreement, provided your partner is willing to sign the agreement too.
I pay for my own care at home, can I apply for a deferred payment agreement?
A deferred payment agreement is designed for people who are most at risk of selling their home to pay care fees. If you are still living in your own home, you should not need a deferred payment agreement, and there are other ways for you to pay for your care (including council support if you have less than £23,250 in savings and investments).
I already live in a care home. Can I apply for a deferred payment agreement?
If you have savings and investments of less than £23,250 and you do not have a partner or dependent living in your home, you should be eligible for a deferred payment agreement. If you have more than £23,250, we may still offer you a deferred payment agreement. Contact us directly to find out more.
My partner’s share of our savings are in my name, will that be taken into account?
This will depend on how the savings are held – contact the council or an independent financial adviser for guidance.
How much will it cost me to set up a deferred payment agreement?
Every council is entitled to charge an administrative fee for setting up a deferred payment agreement. This fee is to cover the costs we incur in setting up your deferred payment agreement, and not to make a profit. Our charge is £175.
Will the council make a profit out of deferred payment agreements?
No. We need to make sure that we can invest in the scheme so that people can benefit from it for many years to come. The interest rate and administrative fee will cover our costs, and we won’t make a profit from them.
Who will live in my home if I have a deferred payment agreement?
This is up to you – though there are benefits to keeping your home occupied. It must be maintained and insured for as long as you have the deferred payment agreement, and this can be cheaper and/or easier if someone is living there. You might choose to rent it out and use the income to reduce the amount you asked the council to defer.
Can I avoid selling my home if I get a deferred payment agreement?
If you have a deferred payment agreement, it means you should not have to sell your home in your lifetime unless you decide you want to.
The money owed to the council from care home bills paid on your behalf during the deferred payment agreement will need to be repaid eventually. This can either be repaid by selling your house or you can arrange another way to pay if you are able to. For example, someone else could pay the money owed, or your family could use any pay-out from your life assurance after your death.
Your deferred payment agreement will end automatically following your death, and your executor will have 90 days to arrange payment of the money owed. If someone else (like a friend or relative) chooses to pay the bill, then your home will not have to be sold.
Can I still get a deferred payment agreement if I have gifted money or my home to my children?
Your home and your money still belong to you if you have a deferred payment agreement, so you can make gifts to your children. However, a deferred payment agreement for care costs will always need to be repaid – either by the sale of your home after your death, by someone else, or by something like the pay-out from a life assurance policy. If the council believes that your home or your money have been given away deliberately to avoid paying care charges, then we have the power to recover any money that we are owed.
How long does it take to set up a deferred payment agreement?
During the first twelve weeks you are in a care home, the value of your home is not included for the purposes of calculating what you might pay, and a DPA would usually start after that period when the value of your home will start to affect the level of charges. If you are eligible, we should be able to set up a deferred payment agreement within twelve weeks of you moving to a care home but some will be arranged more quickly than this.
Who will value my home?
The council will arrange to have your property valued and you can also request an independent valuation if you disagree with that valuation.
Can the terms of my deferred payment agreement be changed at any time?
The maximum amount of costs that the council will pay on your behalf, along with the interest rate and any administrative fees, will be set out at the start of the deferred payment agreement. These will be reviewed regularly and can be updated if the value of your home changes or interest rates change for example.
Any other conditions – for example how the property should be maintained – will also be written down in your agreement. Make sure that you understand the full terms and conditions and get independent advice from a solicitor, financial advisor or an independent organisation before signing a deferred payment agreement.
Can I get a deferred payment agreement if my house is in a flood risk area?
In order to be eligible for a deferred payment agreement your property will need to be insured. Please contact us if you have specific concerns about this.
What will happen to my home after my death?
The executor of your estate should arrange repayment of the money owed to the council, either by putting your home up for sale, or by arranging for another person, such as your heir, to pay. This will usually need to be done within 90 days. If the money owed is repaid
without your home being sold, then your property will be dealt with according to any instructions you have left.
Who decides on the price my home will be sold at after my death?
Your executor will arrange the sale and repayment of the money owed to the council.
How long will my heirs have to pay back the deferred payment agreement without incurring extra charges?
Your heirs will usually have 90 days to repay the deferred payment agreement. Interest charges will continue to be added during this period.
What will happen if my heirs don’t pay back the deferred payment agreement within the 90 days? Will they be charged extra?
If, after 90 days they haven’t taken reasonable steps to repay the deferred payment agreement, then the council has the power to recover the amount owed through the courts.
Are all heirs equally liable for the repayment of a deferred payment agreement?
Any money that is left after the money owed to the council has been repaid from your estate will be divided up according to any instructions that you leave.
How is the money reclaimed?
You may need to name someone (usually the executor of your will) in your deferred payment agreement, who will help us to reclaim our costs in the event of your death.
Can a family member apply for a deferred payment agreement if a person needing care has dementia or does not have the capacity to understand?
Carers and families can help people to make decisions about their care and how to pay for it. If we are concerned that the person applying for the deferred payment agreement does not have the capacity to understand, or won’t have capacity to understand in the near future, then another person may need to represent them. Only a person that is properly authorised, like someone with legal power of attorney, can represent someone in applying for a deferred payment agreement.
A deferred payment agreement is only one way to pay for care. To find out more about the options available, you can speak to a financial adviser or seek advice from an independent organisation.
Support for carers
What is a carer?
In England, millions of people provide unpaid care or support to an adult family member or friend, either in their own home or somewhere else.
‘Caring’ for someone covers lots of different things, like helping with their washing, dressing or eating, taking them to regular appointments or keeping them company when they feel lonely or anxious.
If this sounds like you, you are considered to be a ‘carer’.
From April 2015, care and support in England is changing for the better, and if the person you care for is an adult (aged 18 or over) you may be able to get more help to carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing.
What is ‘support for carers’?
‘Support for carers’ is what we mean by the help and advice that carers can get from the council, national services and local networks. As a carer, you may be able to get more help so that you can carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing.
What is changing?
From April 2015, changes to the way care and support is provided in England mean you may be eligible for support, such as a direct payment to spend on the things that make caring easier; or practical support, like arranging for someone to step in when you need a short break. Or you may prefer to be put in touch with local support groups so you have people to talk to.
The council covering the area where the person you care for lives can help you find the right support and you can ask them for a carer’s assessment.
A carer’s assessment will look at the different ways that caring affects your life and work out how you can carry on doing the things that are important to you and your family. Your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will be at the heart of this assessment. As a result, you may be eligible for support from the council, who will also offer you advice and guidance to help you with your caring responsibilities.
You can have a carer’s assessment even if the person you care for does not get any help from the council, and they will not need to be assessed.
Am I eligible for support?
The council covering the area where the person you care for lives can help you find the right support and you can ask them for a carer’s assessment. The carer’s assessment will help to decide what care and support you need and how much help the council can give you.
What about parents caring for disabled children, or young carers who are under 18?
If you are a young carer yourself, or if you are a parent caring for a disabled child, you have similar rights to assessment and support but they are covered by the Children and Families Act, not the new Care Act.
If you or the person you are caring for is about to reach the age of 18 years, you will be able to get a ‘transition assessment’ which will let you know whether you or they are likely to be eligible for support as an adult caring for another adult.
The Department for Education will soon be publishing further information on the rights of parent carers and young carers and how councils should support them.
Carers Direct – support for parent carers and young carers
How might a carer’s assessment help me?
If you provide care and support to an adult friend or family member, you may be eligible for support, such as a direct payment to spend on the things that make caring easier; or practical support, like arranging for someone to step in when you need a short break. Or you may prefer to be put in touch with local support groups so you have people to talk to.
A carer’s assessment will consider the impact the care and support you provide is having on your own wellbeing and important aspects of the rest of your life.
When can I request a carer’s assessment?
You can ask for a carer’s assessment at any time. You should contact the council covering the area where the person you care for lives, if it is not the same as your own. If you don’t want a carer’s assessment but you are looking for advice and information about local support, the council will be able to help you.
What will be considered during the assessment?
A carer’s assessment will look at the different ways caring affects your life and work out how you can carry on doing the things that are important to you and your family. It should cover your caring role, your feelings about caring, your physical, mental and emotional health, and how caring affects your work, leisure, education, wider family and relationships.
Your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will be at the heart of this assessment. This means that you will be able to tell the council how caring for someone is affecting your life and what could make things better for you and the person you look after.
Will I be asked about my finances?
You won’t need to do a financial means test as part of the carer’s assessment but you might be asked about what impact the cost of caring is having on your finances. The carer’s allowance that some people receive for caring on a full-time basis is different and does require a means test.
Councils may charge a fee for some of the support services they offer. If they think you might benefit from one of these services, the council might ask to look at your finances to see whether you can afford to pay. If you can’t afford to pay, they might offer you the service for free. Councils may also need to look at the finances of the person that you care for if they are going to provide support directly to that person.
Does having a carer’s assessment affect my right to get carer’s allowance?
Not at all. Having a carer’s assessment will not affect your right to receive a carer’s allowance.
Does having a carer’s assessment mean the council is judging the quality of care that I provide?
A carer’s assessment is about you and your wellbeing. It will consider the impact that caring is having on your life and what support might be available for you. Its purpose is not to judge the care that you provide.
Can I have a carer’s assessment if the person I care for does not currently get help from the council?
Yes. But you will need to do this through the council of the person that you support, if it is not the same as your own. You can also ask for an assessment for the person you care for, if you want to.
I share providing care with other family members/ friends. Can all of us have a carer’s assessment?
Everyone who gives unpaid care to an adult over the age of 18, and has some need for support, can request an individual carer’s assessment. They do not have to be done together.
I share providing care with other family members/ friends and we disagree about who provides the most. Will this affect the support that I may be offered?
This should not affect the support you may be offered. If you care for an adult family member of friend, and you feel like you need some support, you can contact the council covering the area where the person you care for lives to ask for a carer’s assessment.
If the council decides that you have needs that meet the new national level they will discuss with you what support they can provide.
If your needs are not eligible, the council will give you information and advice about other types of support that are available in your area. This may include putting you in touch with local charities or community organisations.
The person I am caring for will not agree to a needs assessment themselves. Could I still be offered support as a carer?
You don’t need the permission of the person you are caring for to request a carer’s assessment. You are entitled to ask for one in your own right.
If my assessment recommends a short break from caring, who will pay for the cost of services that cover for me?
Each person’s situation is different. The cost would either be covered by the council, or a contribution would need to be paid by the person receiving the care. You as a carer cannot be charged for any support provided directly to the person you care for, even if it helps you to take a break.
What happens if my needs change or if I need more support?
If either of these things happen, the council of the person that you support will be able to discuss your situation with you and agree the next steps to take.
Where can I find out more about support for carers?
Alternatively, contact the council of the person you are caring for.
You can also see more detailed information in the Care Act Factsheets. These provide an overview, and describe the duties and powers of councils to carry out the changes.
Independent financial advice
When do I need independent financial advice?
Knowing the best way to fund your care can be very complicated and confusing. There will be times when you need to get financial advice which is impartial and independent of the local authority so you make the right decisions. For example:
- where there are a number of options available and you need advice on which one to choose, bearing in mind that often we are not allowed to recommend one.
- when there is potential conflict between the our interests and yours, such as advice on how assets are taken into consideration as part of your financial assessment.
- when you are about to enter into a legal agreement. For example, we can provide information about the consequences of entering into a deferred payment agreement (DPA), but cannot advise you on whether you should enter into it.
- where you want advice on specific financial products to get the most out of your assets; this would probably need ‘regulated’ advice.
What is an independent or ‘regulated’ financial adviser?
Independent financial advice is available from a number of sources. Some services are free and provided by not-for-profit organisations, such as:
There are also more formal ‘independent financial advisers’ (IFA), who you may need to pay for their advice. They can give you advice on financial matters and recommend suitable financial products.
Please note that:
- Some financial advisers are ‘restricted’, which means they can only sell you certain types of products.
- IFAs have to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and must meet their strict requirements and standards.
- Many IFAs are not experts in social care, and there are few products available for the various financial changes of Care Act about how to plan for your care.
How can I find independent financial advice?
- Money Advice Service – or phone 0300 500 5000);
- Citizen’s Advice Bureau – getting financial advice;
- The Society of Later Life Advisers – helps you and your family find trusted financial advisers who understand financial needs in later life.
We cannot recommend specific IFAs or provide a list of them, but you can search online for “IFAs in Warwickshire” or “Independent Financial Advisers in Warwickshire”.
Can I get help if I have difficulties getting or understanding advice?
If you don’t have family or friends to help you, and you think getting or understanding independent financial advice may be difficult, we may be able to provide you with a free ‘independent advocate’.
They can support or advocate on your behalf to ensure you have thought about the best way of supporting and representing yourself, with regard to your well-being and interests. This will help you to get the most out of any independent financial advice.
Other situations may mean you should have an independent advocate, such as when you need a long stay in a hospital or care home, or if there is a disagreement over your involvement.
Cap on care costs – delayed until 2020
I’ve heard that the cap on care costs won’t be coming in next year, is this true?
Yes. The cap on care costs was due to be introduced in April 2016, but has now been delayed to April 2020.
The government has said that this has been a difficult decision but that they have listened to concerns about the timetable for implementation and calls for more funding for care and support. They have said that the delay will allow time to be taken to ensure that everyone is ready to introduce the new system and to look at what more can be done to support people with the costs of care. The government has said that they remain fully committed to introducing a cap on social care costs and helping people manage the costs of their social care.
Does this mean I will now have to pay for all of my care?
Everyone’s situation is different both in terms of their financial situation and the type and cost of care they may need. Most people currently pay something towards their care and support costs, and will continue to do so. We can advise you on how much you may have to contribute towards the cost of your care and help you find out if there are any additional benefits or financial support you may be entitled to.
Will I have to sell my home to pay for care?
For those who do have to pay the full amount for their own care there is now a national scheme called deferred payment agreements which means that you should not have to sell your home within your lifetime to pay for your care. More about paying for social care charges.
I am a ‘working age adult’, how does this affect me?
The funding reforms, including the proposals for the cap on care costs for working age adults, will be implemented in April 2020.
I have requested a care assessment, but haven’t yet had one. Will this still happen?
Yes you are entitled to an assessment of your care needs regardless of your financial circumstances. If you are a carer you are also entitled to an assessment of your needs. The delay in the cap on care costs does not affect your entitlement to an assessment.
I think I will have to pay for the full costs of my care, will I have to wait until April 2020 to get my care costs account started?
Yes, once we know the exact implementation timetable, you will receive details about how and when to start your care account. Further information and advice
I was told that there would be changes to the means test in April 2016. Has this also been delayed?
Yes, a means test is where a person’s finances and assets are looked at to decide how much they will be asked to contribute towards their care. At the moment, if you have capital and savings above £23,250 you will fund all of your social care.
What is care and support?
Department of Health factsheets – The Department of Health has published a series of factsheets on the Care Act, covering a range of topics including general responsibilities, assessments and eligibility, charging, and caring.