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Paying for a care home

Most people needing support in a care home will be expected to pay something towards the costs of their accommodation and personal care. How much they pay will depend on their financial situation.

Care homes arranged by your local authority

Your local council may be able to help fund your care in a care home. This will depend on whether the council agrees that you need such a high level of care after they've assessed your needs. The amount of funding will also depend on an assessment of your financial circumstances to find out how much, if any, the council should be paying towards the cost of the care.

Care services the council provide are chargeable, and depending on your financial circumstances you may be asked to pay towards the cost of care and support provided by the council.

Once you have discussed your needs with your social care worker, you will need to have a financial assessment to work out how much, if anything, you must contribute towards the cost of your care and support services.  Your social worker will explain the charging process and discuss how you can complete your financial assessment. 

This financial assessment, or 'means test', is based on nationally set guidelines and looks at how much income and capital (savings, assets and property) you have.

If you're eligible for nursing home care, then you may be eligible for some of the cost of the care to be paid for by the NHS (see 'Exemptions' below).

How property affects contributions

  • The value of your home if you own the property/land is taken into account if your stay in a residential home is permanent. If taken into account, we will ignore the property/land which is your home for the first 12 weeks (known as the property disregard period), then you will pay for the full cost of your care. 
  • Please also see Deferred Payments below.*
  • The value of your home is not taken into account if your stay in a residential home is temporary (no more than 52 weeks stay in a residential care home with a clear intention to return to your main home).
  • The value of any second property/land you own (such as a holiday home) is taken into account for all types of care. The value of that property/land will be included as savings under 'Notional Capital' from the start of your care (Day 1) with no property disregard period allowed.

If you own property/land it generally means you own something worth more than £23,250. Unless your spouse or partner is living in/on the property/land, it will usually mean you have to pay the full ECC contracted fees yourself.   

If you are above the capital threshold or have property/land which we may take into account; resulting in the full cost of your care being due, we would strongly advise you seek independent financial advice to discuss all financial arrangements and their implications for you.

Deferred Payments option*

You may be offered the option to defer some of your charges if you own a property which has been taken into consideration within your financial assessment, and you have capital below £23,250. For further information, visit the Deferred Payments page on the council's website.

Visit the county council's Charging for Care Services pages to find information on: 

Third party top-ups

This must be discussed and agreed with your Social Worker.  If the  council does agree to pay towards the cost of your care home and you choose to enter accommodation which charges more than our contracted rate, 'top up fees' are possible and can be discussed with your social worker.

You could check whether a relative or other person is in a position to pay an additional contribution towards your care home costs. This arrangement, known as a 'third-party top-up', means that you could potentially live in a care home which costs more than the council would be able to pay. However, your relative is under no obligation to do this, and it does not affect whether or not the council will agree to pay towards a care home placement for you.

You should also note that if the top-up is not maintained you may have to move to a care home that is within the council's usual rate. 

Please note: A third party top up of care charges must be paid by a third party and not by the customer or Essex County Council.

Making your own arrangements for moving to a care home

Some people prefer to make their own arrangements for moving to a care home, particularly if they already know that their financial circumstances mean that they won't be eligible for any financial support from their local council. The advantage of this is that you have more choice and flexibility, and can decide for yourself which care home you would like to move into.

However, if you make arrangements for your own care, you will usually have to pay the full costs. These costs are likely to be higher than for care arrangements made by the local authority, as the local authority will usually pay lower rates to the care providers.

If you won't be receiving support from your local council towards the costs of your care home then you'll be entitled to continue to claim Attendance Allowance or Disability Allowance, and to use this towards the costs of your care.


Regardless of your financial circumstances, you may not have to pay towards the costs of your care if you're eligible for NHScontinuing healthcare, in which case all of the costs will be met by the NHS.

If you require nursing care in a care home then the NHS-funded nursing care component is also funded by the NHS, even if you don't qualify for support with the rest of your nursing care costs from your local council.

You may also not need to pay for your care if you have previously been detained in hospital under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act.

Looking after your finances

Many people who need to move to a care home will find that they're also struggling to safely look after their finances without help from others. If you think you need help to look after money matters then you can find out more about your options in our section Looking after someone's affairs.

Contacting your local council about care home charges

If you want to discuss your current care home charges, or want more information on the financial assessment process, then you can contact Essex County Council as follows:

New Customers

The Contact Essex team can help you with enquiries. They can be contacted in the following ways:

Telephone: 0345 603 7630
Textphone: 0345 758 5592

Existing Customers

The financial assessments team can help you with enquires relating to your assessed charge, completing the financial assessment form, and visits from our financial assessment officers. The team can be contacted in the following ways:

Telephone: 0800 085 8176 or 0333 013 5895
Textphone: 0345 758 5592

Other information and advice

Age UK has fact sheets and information on meeting the costs of a care home, and what to expect when you move there. The financial information in these fact sheets applies regardless of your age.

The Independent Age website has produced two guides:

The Money Advice Service offers advice on all aspects of paying for care and support.

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