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Paying for care

Unlike the NHS, social care services are not free. How much you pay for your care depends on your income and savings.

Care can be expensive. Most people pay some, or all, of their care costs themselves. If you have investments and/or savings of more than £23,250 you will pay for your own home care. If you have between £14,250 and £23,250 we may be able to make a contribution to your care fees.

If you are going into residential care, the value of your house will usually be taken into account too.

Some elements of care may be funded by the NHS for a short time period following discharge from hospital. You should receive information about this, if it applies to you, as part of the discharge process.

Are you worried about paying for your care?

We understand that due to the current cost of living crisis things may be very difficult at the moment. Nobody should consider having to cancel their care because they cannot afford it.

If you are considering doing this, please contact the our Financial Assessment Team for a discussion to see if they can help in any way.

Tel: 0300 126 3003

The team can look at ways to help you to afford your care. They can check that you are claiming all relevant disability related expenditure and benefits to which you are entitled.

EntitledTo – online benefits calculator

Our benefits calculator will help you find out what benefits you can claim. The calculator is free to use, and the details you provide are anonymous.

How we calculate funding for care

If you are assessed as being eligible for care and support services we will work out how much it will cost to meet your needs.

We will then work with you to understand your financial circumstances. We will carry out a ‘Financial Assessment’ of your income and savings. We will then decide whether the council will make a contribution towards the cost of your care.

The total amount needed to fund your support is called a personal budget.

If you are assessed as needing to pay for your care and support, you will need to start putting money aside for when you receive invoices from the council. Some types of income may not be counted in the Financial Assessment. Such as money from certain disability benefits and pensions, and certain types of capital. This will be explained further at your Financial Assessment.

If you’re eligible for financial assistance to pay for care and support, the council can arrange services for you. Alternatively, you can choose to receive Direct Payments and arrange the services yourself. 

Once you have completed a care needs assessment, we will give you a financial assessment form to complete. We may ask to see any documents you have which show your income and savings. These will include:

  • details about your benefits, pensions or other income
  • evidence of bank and building society accounts, national savings, shares or other investments.
  • evidence of Council Tax, rent or mortgage interest payments
  • evidence of any Disability Related Expenditure. (An additional expense that you have because you have a disability or frailty or something that costs you more because of this. You must be eligible for a disability benefit e.g. Attendance Allowance.)

We will work out the most you will have to pay each week. Full details of how we work out how much you will pay are in the Adult Social Care Charging Policy.

If you have a question or concern about your financial assessment please contact us.

Telephone: 0300 126 3003
Financial Assessment Team
Box No: SCO2205
Room No: 2nd floor
Scott House
5 George Street
PE29 3AD

If you have any concerns about your care service, please contact your Key Worker.

If you do not have contact details for a key worker you can call Customer Services:

Contact us - online form

Telephone:: 0345 045 5202

9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

A personal budget is an amount of council funding made available to meet your social care and support needs, following a care and support assessment.

Your care and support plan is used to calculate a weekly amount of money to be used towards meeting the cost of your care.

Your personal budget may be used to:

  • arrange a care agency or Personal Assistant to provide you with care and support at home with things like getting dressed, preparing a meal and washing
  • arrange day activities
  • arrange and pay for respite care - to give you and your carers a short break
  • pay for any support you may need when your carer takes a break

Ways to take a personal budget

You can choose from a range of options for managing a personal budget. This includes:

  • Direct Payments – weekly money for support is sent directly to you, or your nominated individual. You make and oversee your own care and support arrangements
  • The Local Authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) managing the budget – often described as a ‘commissioned’ or ‘managed’ service. This usually means we take on all responsibilities related to finding and arranging care and support to meet your assessed needs
  • A care and support provider or a third-party organisation (such as home care provider or an independent living charity) managing the budget on your behalf – this is known as an Individual Service Fund (ISF)
  • Any combination of these approaches

You can choose how to spend your personal budget, provided that it meets your eligible social care needs and helps to meet the outcomes agreed and outlined in your care and support plan.

Paying for care in your own home

If you are assessed to be eligible for care and support services in the home we will work out how much it will cost to enable you to live the life you want. Most people pay for some, or all, of their care costs. No-one is asked to pay more towards their care than their financial assessment shows they can afford.

Services you may pay for

Depending on your financial circumstances we may be able to make a contribution towards the cost of your support. Support at home or non-residential support can include:

  • home support, day or night
  • Direct Payments scheme
  • community support
  • day service
  • Shared Lives Scheme
  • respite care

Support you don't pay for

You will not be asked to pay towards the following support:

  • time-limited care e.g. following an illness or stay in hospital
  • equipment available on loan following an assessment
  • minor adaptations to your home costing less than £1000
  • support received as a carer
  • aftercare received under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983
  • if you need high levels of health care, you may be able to get your full care costs paid for by the NHS under the criteria for continuing health care

Financial assessment

The Fairer contributions policy means that no one will pay more than they can afford towards their support.

Once the amount you need to pay has been worked out, you will receive a letter that explains how it was worked out and how much you will have to pay.

Direct Payments

If you choose to manage your care support yourself using Direct Payments you will receive the money to meet your care costs, minus your ‘maximum weekly contribution’.

For example, if your support costs £48 per week and your ‘maximum weekly contribution’ is £28 per week, we will pay £20 into your dedicated Direct Payments bank account, you will deposit your contribution of £28 into the same account. You will then pay your provider/s directly when you are invoiced by them.

Find out more about Direct Payments.

Arranged support

If we arrange your support, an invoice will usually be sent to you on a four weekly basis and you can pay your contribution:

  • By direct debit
  • At the post office or Pay Point
  • By cheque
  • By debit or credit card (online or over the phone)

Both Direct Payments and arranged support

If you have both arranged services from us and Direct Payments, there are two ways you will pay your contribution depending on how you manage your services:

  • Pay into your Direct Payments bank account if your Direct Payments are more than your arranged services.
  • Where your arranged services are more than the Direct Payments, an invoice for your contribution will be sent to you.

Find out more about Direct Payments.

How will I know what to pay?

We will send you an invoice for your care and support services, normally every four weeks. The invoice will show the charge payable for the services you have received. You must make sure you pay invoices in full within the timeframe given, by whichever payment method you choose.

When will I start paying for my care?

Your bill will start from the date that your care begins. We will usually invoice you four weeks after your care has started.

Paying for residential care

If you have capital and/or savings of more than £23,250 you will probably pay the full cost of your care until your capital / savings drop below this. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • savings in bank / building society accounts
  • stocks, shares or unit trusts
  • premium bonds
  • National Savings
  • cash
  • value of property and land
  • any property you own will usually count as one of your capital assets.

The value of your home will be excluded if:

  • your partner, former partner or civil partner, except where you are estranged continues to live there or,
  • a lone parent who is your estranged or divorced partner continues to live there or,
  • an eligible relative aged 60 or over continues to live there or,
  • an eligible relative who is incapacitated continues to live there
  • your child under 18 continues to live there or
  • other special circumstances

If your savings are less than £23,250, and you own your own home, its value is usually not included in the financial assessment for 12 weeks from when your care starts.

If you have less than £23,250 but more than £14,250 in assets, savings or investments, you will pay a contribution to your care costs.

If you pay the full cost of your care yourself, you are known as a self-funder.

We strongly advise you to seek specialist financial advice from a qualified independent financial adviser. They can make sure that you are aware of your options for paying for your own care.

If your capital and savings is below £23,250 and you have a high level of needs, we will contribute to the cost of your care. You must have a financial assessment to work out how much you will pay.

If you do not give us information about your financial circumstances, you must pay the full cost of your care.

Care home charges

Care home costs can vary from home to home. If the council is contributing towards the cost of your care, your choice of care home will be limited to those that accept the council’s funding level.

If the home you have chosen charges more than the council’s contribution, you must find someone to help pay the difference. Except in limited circumstances, the law states that you are not allowed to make this additional payment yourself. The responsibility for this often falls to a member of your family or a benevolent sponsor, such as a charity.

If the person making these extra payments cannot continue to make these in the future, the council may not automatically pay the difference. If the home will not accept a lower rate, you may need to think about moving to a less expensive care home.

If you pay the full cost of your care home fees, arranged it without our assistance and the care home fees are higher than the council’s funding level, you will need to think about how the fees will be paid if your capital and savings are likely to fall below £23,250 in the future.

If your capital is less than £14,250 and the home you choose charges fees within our funding rate, your contribution will be assessed on your income only.

Deprivation of assets

Deprivation of assets means disposing of assets in order to be eligible for funding for care.

Will we have to investigate, if you give away your money, or other assets, before or while you are living in residential care. If you sell an asset at less than market value, we must investigate this too. If deprivation has occurred it may mean we treat you as still having the asset you gave away.

People who fund their own care, usually pay for their care fees in the following ways:

  • using savings and /or income from investments
  • selling their home and using the proceeds to pay their care fees
  • renting out their property
  • purchasing a care fee payment plan: you pay a lump sum to an insurer who will then guarantee to cover residential and nursing care fees for the rest of your life

Before making any decisions you should seek independent financial advice.

How do people pay for care?

People who fund their own care, usually pay for their care fees in the following ways:

  • using savings and /or income from investments
  • selling their home and using the proceeds to pay their care fees
  • renting out their property
  • purchasing a care fee payment plan: you pay a lump sum to an insurer who will then guarantee to cover residential and nursing care fees for the rest of your life

Before making any decisions you should seek independent financial advice.

Twelve-week property disregard

We will help with costs during the first 12 weeks of permanent care if:

  • your former home is included in your financial assessment
  • your other capital is less than £23,250
  • your income is not enough to meet your care home fees
  • we agree that you need care

We will calculate your contribution during this period based on your income and remaining capital.

Deferred payment agreement

Deferred payment of care home fees means you do not have to sell your home in your lifetime to pay your care home bills. Care home payments are made by the council on your behalf as an ongoing loan, using your home as security.

The funds loaned are repaid either when you sell your home, or after your death.

After the twelve-week property disregard period, your care costs will be charged against the value of your home and recovered once your house has been sold.

If your savings or capital are less than £23,250, you are entitled to keep an allowance from your income and benefits. The remainder is usually required as your contribution towards your care home costs. It is always best to obtain independent financial advice to help you decide how best to manage and arrange your finances to pay your care home fees.

  • If you need nursing care, NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough may pay towards the nursing element of your care costs. This is tax-free and non-means-tested.
  • If you need high levels of health care, you may be able to get your full care costs paid for by the NHS under the criteria for continuing health care.

Benefits you may be able to claim

Depending on your needs and circumstances, you may be entitled to:

  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Attendance Allowance if you are over 65 with disability-related care needs
  • Personal Independence Payment if you are under 65 with disability-related care needs

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with benefits advice. You can also see our information on benefits for adults and older people.

Third party contributions (Top-up payments)

If the care home you choose costs more than we usually pay for a person with your needs, someone will have to make up the difference. This extra payment is often referred to as a ‘top-up’ or ‘third party top-up’.

It is against the law to make this payment yourself. The only exception is when your placement is for a 12 week property disregard or for a deferred payment. The responsibility for this often falls to a member of your family or a benevolent sponsor such as a charity. Once confirmed, the person or organisation must sign a formal agreement.

Paying for care is a complex area. We recommend you get independent financial advice.

What is a third party (top-up) contribution?

If you are eligible for a financial contribution from the Council, but the fees at the home you choose are more than this, a third party can make up the difference.

A third party contribution is a weekly amount paid by someone - often a relative, friend, or organisation - towards the cost of residential or nursing home care fees when the fees are higher than the maximum amount we will contribute.

An agreement must be signed by whoever is paying the third party contribution.

You do not have to choose a residential or nursing care home that charges more than we will contribute. Some homes charge the same amount that the Council pays so there is no need for a third party contribution.

Who can make a third party contribution?

If you live in a residential or nursing care home permanently, you cannot usually pay the third party contribution out of your capital or weekly personal allowance. There are two exceptions:

  • if you have agreed a ‘12 week property disregard’ arrangement with the Council.


  • we have agreed a deferred payment agreement with you.

Relatives, friends, other individuals and organisations can pay third party contributions. Voluntary organisations can also help in some situations. Whoever pays a third party contribution must be able to show that they are willing and able to pay the difference between the amount the Council is able to contribute for a person with your needs and the fees the care home actually charges.

What happens if the third party stops paying contributions?

You may have to move to another residential or nursing care home that charges the same amount as we can contribute.

If people become unable to pay third party contributions, they must let managers of residential and nursing care homes know immediately.

They must also let us know straight away - contact details are at the bottom of the page.

Annual review

We will review contributions each year. If a third party contribution increases before the planned annual review, it is vital that the person paying the third party contribution informs us.

What is Cambridgeshire County Council responsible for?

Council staff are responsible for talking through this information fully with you and whoever has agreed to pay a third party contribution. We will record that we have done this and that you and whoever has agreed to pay a third party contribution understood your responsibilities.

If we are contributing to your care costs we have the right to ask about your financial situation. We cannot ask people who are paying third party contributions about their financial situation. However we must ensure they are able to make contributions for as long as people remain living in residential and nursing care homes.

You must tell us as soon as possible if the amount of your income or capital increases or decreases significantly during the year. If your capital is likely to reduce to £23,250, you must let us know well in advance.

Contact us about approaching funding threshold - online form

Telephone: : 0345 045 5202

9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

If you will be paying for care, we strongly recommend that you get independent financial and/or legal advice. You must weigh up each option carefully. We are unable to give advice on financial matters.

You should choose a financial adviser who:

  • can give impartial advice
  • can help you make an informed decision
  • has experience of providing advice on long term care

Fees for financial advice will vary. Costs should be transparent, make sure you understand how much you will be paying.

You may also need an adviser with a good understanding of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) helps people find Independent Financial Advisers in their area who specialise in the financial needs of older people. SOLLA members are independently accredited to offer the added reassurance that, as well as holding professional qualifications, they can offer practical guidance to help you make decisions about financing your care needs.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also advise on local sources of support for financial advice.

Reduce the risk of needing to pay for care

You can reduce the risk of needing care by: