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Below are some of the key metrics for the social care means-test for 2019/20:

  • upper capital limit – £23,250
  • lower capital limit – £14,250
  • Personal Expenses Allowance – £24.90 per week
  • Minimum Income Guarantee – depends on circumstances, see Annex of the pdf document

The Department of Health and Social Care’s “Care and Support Statutory Guidance” sets rather rigid means-test rules for care home residents with little scope for local authority discretion. For people receiving social care in non-care home settings, local authorities design their own charging policies which can be more generous than those for care home residents e.g. an upper capital limit higher than £23,250.

In order to determine eligibility for local authority funding support towards social care costs, someone’s capital is assessed against the upper limit. For care home residents only, their capital can include the value of their home but this has to be disregarded from the means-test if certain conditions are met or if a local authority decides to exercise its discretion to disregard it.

Those recipients of social care with capital below the upper limit are eligible for local authority funding support toward the cost, but they are still required to contribute any income they receive (except disregarded income, such as earnings). There is no limit of the amount of income someone has to contribute over their lifetime. They are allowed to retain a certain amount each week for personal expenses and (if applicable) household bills.

A deferred payments agreement may be offered by a local authority, which can avoid the need for a care home resident to sell their home during their lifetime. In addition, third (or in some limited cases, first) party top-ups can be used to finance a more expensive care home setting than a local authority would normally fund.

This note applies to England only.

Documents to download

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