How Paying for Elderly Care Works Across the UK

How Paying for Elderly Care Works Across the UK


Steve Murray

3 Min

The social care system in the UK addresses many aspects of care for the elderly. Types of care include:

  • Help to live independently at home with assistance in simple tasks such as shopping and cleaning
  • Intensive home care with frequent carer visits to help with tasks like washing, dressing and eating meals
  • 24-hour care in a nursing or residential home, or sheltered accommodation

Elderly social care services, unlike the NHS, come at a cost to the individual cared for and their family. Some people aged 65 and over may receive Government help, but others can pay the full cost of care.

The care system works differently depending on whereabouts you live in the UK. In this post, I'll look at how care is paid for in each of the UK's home nations:


Who provides?

In England, local authorities/councils provide social care for the region they are responsible for. A council only has to provide help for those with significant need.

Who pays?

When seeking funding for a


care home or care at home, if your financial assets, which includes your home and other property, have a total value of less than £14,250, you qualify for full local authority funding. If you have between £14,250 and £23,250 in assets, you will receive partial local authority funding. 

Any person seeking care with more than £23,250 will normally be expected to pay for their own care in full.

People in nursing homes can get a contribution from the NHS towards their costs. Some individuals may get all their fees met through the continuing healthcare system.


Who provides?

In Scotland, anyone aged over 65 is entitled to free personal care if they are assessed as needing help. Local authorities determine the criteria for who is eligible and the majority have set it at a very high level of need. Personal care includes support with daily tasks such as washing, dressing and the preparation of meals. However, it does not cover the cost of supplying meals or for help with tasks such as shopping. Anyone who needs care which requires a qualified nurse will also have that provided free by the NHS.

Who pays?

ScotlandIf an individual is in a residential or nursing home, they will get a contribution of £171 towards personal care and an additional £78 if they require nursing care. They are then liable to fund all remaining costs.

An individual may be entitled to some help if their assets, usually including their house, fall below £26,250. They will be assessed to see how much they can contribute. An individual is entitled to keep at least £16,250 in assets.


Who provides?

In Wales, it is again the responsibility of councils to determine whether a person's needs are severe enough to make them eligible for help. Like Scotland, the majority of councils most set the bar at the two highest levels of need; substantial or critical.

Who pays?

WalesFor care provided the home, funding is capped at £60 a week. If an individual has assets of more than £24,000, excluding their home, they will be expected to pay for home care up to that limit. Those with less may be entitled to help.

For care in a nursing or residential home, people with assets less than £24,000, this time including the value of property, usually receive some contribution towards costs. Anyone with assets worth more than that amount will have to fund care costs in full. Like England, an individual can seek help from the continuing healthcare system.

Northern Ireland

Who provides?

In Northern Ireland there are six Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts. Five of these trusts provide integrated health and social care services and carry out the assessment of individuals' needs.

Who pays?

Northern IrelandFor people aged over 75, the majority of care in the home is provided free. For those aged under 75 funding is only partial and is determined by the local HSC trust.

For care in nursing and residential homes, those with assets of more than £23,250, including the value of the individual's home, will be expected to fund care costs in full. Those with less than £23,250 may be provided with funding support. All individuals are entitled to keep at least £14,250 of assets.

For more information on paying for elderly care in the UK, I strongly recommend visiting the 'Paying for Care' resource website. The site contains an abundance of really useful information on funding care including asset thresholds and the costs of different types of care. Visit the 'Paying for Care' website.

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