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When Should I Apply for Local Authority Funding?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The social care system on its knees

Paying for care is an ongoing discussion and one I am sure is mentioned in the upcoming election campaigns.  The current green paper of the future of social care has been delayed to the “first opportunity in 2019” but currently remains to be considered.  The reality is there has been social care cuts since 2010 and higher eligibility criteria since 2015.  Couple this with increased challenges with the number and quality of staff and higher care costs this has led to one in six of our care providers not meeting current care standards regulated by the CQC.

A consequence of this is we now have fewer registered care providers and sadly increased instances of the local authority ignoring the law.

Many residents start off paying privately for their own care and after some time they reach the maximum threshold of £23,250 and therefore need to ask the local authority to assist with their care fee funding.

It is advisable, due to the pressure the local authority are under to make this application when the resident is one year away from needing local authority funding.  This will allow the local authority enough time to carry out the various financial and eligibility needs assessments required to secure funding.

If a person meets both the financial criteria and eligible needs criteria the local authority is under a duty to arrange and meet those needs.  They are however only under a duty to arrange and provide those needs for a privately paying resident if they are either under a mental incapacity or they have assets over the threshold and expressly request the local authority to do so.

Unfortunately when the local authority arranges such care an individual often does not get the level or quality of care they want.

A recent case has confirmed that the local authority is not under a duty to achieve the outcome the individual wants but only what is necessary.

A care package should not be reduced unless a reassessment of needs has been made which involves the individual (or a representative on their behalf) and their carers.  Any reduction without such assessment is unlawful.   An individual is entitled to a reassessment or a reassessment will be triggered on any change of circumstances to make up the difference.

Under our current social care system if you cannot afford the level of care you want by your own means the local authority budget will not extend to your wants.  Family or friends may be asked to top up care fees to make up the difference.

Is there a better way?

The green paper seeks to consider integrating the NHS and social care systems, once again they will consider a cap on care and an insurance model.  Specialised housing will be considered and a link between children and the elderly.   Currently there is no suggestion that the responsibility of social care will not be passed to the tax payer.

Talk to our dedicated care funding team for all matters regarding the cost of care.

Vicki Pearce


Vicki Pearce


Vicki is a Partner and head of our Private Client Team and our Care Funding and Court of Protection Team . She is based in Northampton. As head of both teams she is able to bring her expertise and obvious overlaps into both areas of…