Cost of care fees arrangement set to increase

Lancashire County Council can agree to defer the costs of care in some cases.
Lancashire County Council can agree to defer the costs of care in some cases.
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Anybody wanting to delay payment of their care costs to avoid selling their home will face an increase in the fee charged by Lancashire County Council to establish the arrangement.

It currently costs £500 to set up a deferred payment agreement, but the authority’s cabinet has approved plans to increase its administration charge to £810.

Members were told that the price rise was necessary in order for the council to recover the money it has to spend on valuations and legal fees.

Under the scheme, a resident needing to move into a residential home or supported living accommodation does not have to sell their own home to pay for their care during their lifetime - if they meet the criteria laid down under government legislation.

The county council considered charging each individual the exact amount which it cost to set up their particular agreement, but opted instead for a flat flee. Cabinet heard that the fixed charge offered certainty for those applying for a deferral - and simplicity for the council in administering it.

“To do individual [assessments] would have cost an awful lot of officer time, so we would probably have only got a fraction of the cost back,” Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult social care, told the meeting.

In order to qualify for deferred payment, an individual must have less than £23,250 in savings and assets - not including their home. Their property must not be occupied by a spouse or other dependent relative.

If they are granted a deferral, the cost of their care will be taken from the sale of their home, usually after their death. Interest will be charged and the council will also take into account any contribution being made to their care from other sources - such as income or renting out the property.

Individuals are allowed to keep £144 per week in “disposable income” before having to meet care costs.

The amount of equity in a property which can be set against care charges is calculated on the basis of its value, minus 10 percent and the deduction of a further £14,250 - known as the “lower capital limit”.

For the first 12 weeks of a person’s care, the value of their home is not taken into account, so that they do not feel rushed into selling or entering into a deferral agreement.