Our elderly mother Emily is in need of long-term care in a private
residential home. The fees quoted are 350 a week.
Emily has 10,000 in a building society account and a house worth 250,000.
In addition, she receives an income of 9,500 a year made up of a widow's
pension and the state pension.
Please advise us on who is responsible for assessing Emily's long-term
care needs. What benefits might she be entitled to? How might her
investments affect her entitlement to benefits?
The NHS and Community Care Act 1990 gave responsibility to local
authority social services departments for assessing the needs of
individuals for long-term care. They involve other agencies as they see fit
and then make suitable provisions, subject to budget constraints.
What benefits may Emily be entitled to?
Income support can often be paid to people living in residential care or
nursing homes. The amount payable is the level of fees or a set maximum
amount, whichever is the lower, and a personal expenses allowance.
Additional allowances may be payable to cover the cost of meals.
Each year, the Government publishes its fee scale for the maximum weekly
amounts that it will pay until the following April. The maximum help with
fees will depend on the type of care provided.
In most cases, the maximum weekly amount payable until April 5, 2000 was
218 (or 252 for very dependent elderly patients) for independent
residential care homes and 326 for nursing homes. These amounts could be
increased by 45 and 50 respectively for people living in independent
residential or nursing homes in Greater London.
In addition, all retired people in private care are likely to receive
attendance allowance. Attendance allowance is payable to people aged 65 or
over after they have been suffering from a severe disability for a period
of six months or more.
Two levels of benefit are possible:
A higher rate of 52.95 if care is needed on a 24- hour basis.
A lower rate of 35.40 if care is needed by night or day but not both.
Emily also receives a basic state pension and a widow's pension which
total 9,500 a year.
How will Emily's investments affect her entitlement to benefits?
Emily has 10,000 invested in a building society and her house, valued at
To assess whether she could qualify for any income support on moving into
a residential home, she will be asked to provide the benefits agency with
detailed information about her income and capital.
All income received will be taken into account when assessing entitlement.
Attendance allowance may be ignored, depending on Emily's individual
The information needed to assess the claim for income support includes
proof of part-time earnings and other income, including other benefits,
expenses and income from savings.
The amount of any savings, investments, property or land that Emily has is
also considered when assessing a claim for income support.
Capital between 10,000.01 and 16,000 inclusive will be taken into account
by assuming a weekly income of 1 for any part of 250 of capital over
Once Emily's capital reduces to below 16,000, the local authority may
intervene with financial support. However, they may not necessarily allow
Emily to remain in the same home as they may consider it to be too
This may prove to be an issue because the maximum level of income support
would be restricted to 218 a week. This falls short of the cost of Emily's
home at 350 a week.
As an alternative, the local authority might offer the option for Emily to
move to a local authority residential or nursing home.
The fixed weekly residential allowance for local authority residential
accommodation was 66.75 to April 2000.
Local authority residential care homes are required to charge people what
they can afford for care. This means that all state benefits to which Emily
would be entitled, such as pension and income support, would go back to the
home, excluding the nominal amount of 14.75 a week for her personal