Who Pays for Elderly Care?

 In Blog, Funding Advice

There’s no simple answer to who pays for elderly care in the UK. It depends on the person’s individual needs and finances. Some people self-fund, using their savings or property. Others may get funding from their council after an assessment of their care needs and income.  If someone’s health needs are primary, the NHS might cover care costs.  Benefits like Attendance Allowance can also offer extra financial help.

In the UK, the funding of elderly care can be a confusing area of consideration. The way elderly care is funded in the UK can vary based on factors such as the individual’s financial situation, the level of care needed, and the type of care required. Here are some of the key ways elderly care is paid for in the UK:

Key PointWhat to Remember
Funding is ComplexThere’s no single answer to how care gets paid for; it depends on the person’s needs and finances.
Local Authority is KeyYour local council is the starting point for both care assessments and potential financial support.
NHS Coverage is LimitedNHS Continuing Healthcare primarily covers health needs, not general social care due to old age.
Means Testing is CommonMost people with savings or property will contribute something to their care costs.
Benefits MatterExplore Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, and Carer’s Allowance for possible supplemental assistance.
Seek Expert AdviceConsulting with social workers, financial specialists, or elder care advisors can help you navigate the system.


Individuals who have savings, assets, and income may choose to self-fund their care. This can include paying for care homes, home care services, and other forms of support out of their own resources.

Local Authority Funding

Local authorities (councils) in the UK are responsible for providing social care services. Individuals with limited savings and income may be eligible for funding from their local authority to cover some or all of their care costs. The eligibility criteria and the level of support can vary between different areas.

  • NHS Continuing Healthcare: This is determined by a complex assessment, but the focus is on whether someone’s care needs are primarily health-related. Conditions like advanced dementia, severe mobility issues due to stroke, or end-stage illnesses may make someone eligible.  This is not simply for general frailty associated with aging.

Understanding the application process

  • Local Authority Funding: The starting point is contacting your loved one’s local council (findable by postcode) and requesting a ‘needs assessment.’ This may be conducted by a social worker. They’ll discuss care needs, followed by a separate financial assessment if care is deemed necessary.
  • NHS Continuing Healthcare: You can start this process through a GP, district nurse, or other healthcare professional involved in the person’s care. They’ll do an initial checklist, and if there’s potential eligibility, a full assessment by a multidisciplinary team follows.

National Health Services Funding

In certain cases, healthcare services provided by the NHS may cover the costs of specific medical treatments and care needs. This is typically for medical care rather than social care, and eligibility is determined by medical assessments.

Means-Tested Support

For individuals who require residential care, the local authority may conduct a means test to determine the level of support they are eligible for. This involves assessing the person’s financial resources to determine how much they can contribute towards their care costs.

  • Means Testing:  While thresholds vary slightly by location, many local authorities use figures around £23,250 as a cutoff.  If someone has assets above this (including property value), they typically contribute to their care costs. Below around £14,250, they may receive full funding.  There’s often a sliding scale in between.

Deferred Payment Agreements

In cases where an individual owns property and needs to move into a care home, they can enter into a deferred payment agreement with their local authority. This allows them to delay paying for their care until after their death, with the costs eventually recovered from the sale of their property.

Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment

These are non-means-tested benefits provided by the government to help elderly individuals with care needs. Attendance Allowance is for those over the state pension age who require help with personal care due to a disability or illness. Personal Independence Payment is for people aged 16 to state pension age who have care or mobility needs.

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA): This is for people under state pension age with significant disabilities impacting mobility or daily life. There are different components based on the level of need.
  • Attendance Allowance (AA): For those over state pension age who need help with personal care (dressing, bathing, etc.). There are two payment rates depending on care needs.
  • Carer’s Allowance: A small benefit for family members providing substantial care (at least 35 hours/week) to someone receiving certain other benefits.

Private Insurance

Some individuals may have private insurance policies that cover aspects of elderly care. This could include long-term care insurance or other types of policies that offer coverage for care-related expenses.

Family Contributions

In some cases, family members may contribute financially to the elderly person’s care, either through regular financial assistance or by directly paying for certain services.

Charitable Organisations

Numerous charities across the UK offer support specifically for the elderly and their caregivers. Here are some of the key national organisations:

  • Age UK: Provides advice, information, and practical support on a wide range of issues surrounding aging, including care funding (https://www.ageuk.org.uk/)
  • Independent Age: Offers free financial and benefits advice and can help you navigate care systems (https://www.independentage.org/)
  • Carers UK: Specifically supports unpaid family carers, providing guidance on their rights and benefits, as well as practical resources (https://www.carersuk.org)
  • Alzheimer’s Society: Focuses on dementia care and offers support on financial planning and funding options specific to dementia (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/)

Important Note: Many smaller, local charities also offer valuable assistance. Search online for charities in your area that specialise in elderly care or specific conditions the person may have.

Staying Informed

The funding landscape for elderly care in the UK can change due to policy shifts and reforms. Stay updated and seek specialist advice by consulting with:

  • Local Authorities (Councils): Your council’s website is the first stop for information on local funding, assessments, and care options.
  • Citizens Advice: Offers free, impartial guidance on benefits, debt, legal rights, and more (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/)
  • Solicitors Specialising in Elder Law: Can help with complex care funding planning, power of attorney, and legal safeguards.

Your Guide to Financial Support for Elderly Care

Navigating how to pay for elderly care in the UK can be complicated. It’s helpful to understand all the options available, from self-funding to council support or NHS care if medical needs are the main concern. Don’t forget about benefits like Attendance Allowance. Charities like Age UK offer additional guidance.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Your local council, Citizens Advice, or specialist solicitors can all provide tailored advice.

Considering a care home? At Lidder Care, we understand how difficult this decision can be. Our priority is providing compassionate care in a welcoming environment. Contact us today for a free needs assessment and discover if one of our homes is the right fit for your loved one.