Sunday 21 October 2018
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The real cost of care

Thousands of families in England may be paying councils millions of pounds a year for care home places that should be free*, according to a report by older people’s charity Independent Age.

The families are having to ‘top-up’ their elderly relatives’ care home fees because some councils refuse to pay the full market cost themselves. Councils are required to provide an appropriate care home place to elderly people with few assets but the maximum rate they will pay in England is on average £4521 a week, compared to an average real cost of £5242.
Around 55,000 families pay top-up fees3, and Independent Age has seen cases where families are asked to pay up to £300 a week extra for care that should be paid for by the council.

The charity’s report, The real cost of care, outlines five ways our care home funding system penalises the average older person and their family, also shows how care home funding is a postcode lottery, with some councils in England willing to pay over £900 a week for care home places while neighbouring councils pay less than £400. This means that the top-up fees required of families can also vary widely.

‘It is unfair that family members are left to plug the gaps for fees that councils should be funding,’ says Independent Age Director of Policy Simon Bottery. ‘It happens because care funding is terribly complicated and in many cases relatives simply don’t understand the system.

‘We understand that councils are themselves struggling to find the money to fund care. This situation is further proof of the need for the government to radically reform care funding, along the lines recommended by the recent Dilnot Commission.