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Mrs Kyle is the main carer for her husband, who also has paid carer support twice a day to assist him with washing and dressing. The local authority needs to complete a financial assessment to find out whether Mr Kyle should be contributing towards the cost of this care. During the assessment Mrs Kyle shares all their financial information, including a bank account, in her sole name, where she recently paid in £30,000 that she inherited from her sister. Mr and Mrs Kyle’s savings, in their joint account are £19,000. The financial assessor tells them that because their total savings are over the local authority limit for help (currently £23,250 per individual, £46,500 per couple) they will have to pay for all of Mr Kyle’s care. As they have a very modest pension they use their savings to pay for the care that amounts to over £100 per week.
Mr Kyle should have been assessed on his savings and income alone. As his share of their joint savings is £9,500 he is under the local authority threshold and therefore eligible for financial assistance. This means that he would have to pay much less towards his care costs and therefore have more income left to meet his daily living costs.
The complexity of law around financial assessments for community care has meant that some local authorities are asking carers (as part of a couple) to disclose their own savings and income, held in accounts in their sole name. This then pushes the couple over the threshold for assistance from the local authority and means that the individual has to pay for all of their care costs as they are classed as a ‘self funder’.
We have been contacted by many clients in this situation both in Warwickshire and across the West Midlands. We believe that this goes against the spirit of all the legislation about charging for care and have successfully challenged joint assessments for clients, saving them thousands of pounds in community care fees.
The Care Act to the rescue
Following the introduction of the first part of the Care Act this April, we do now have confirmation that financial assessments should be done on an individual basis. This means that people being assessed for the first time should only be assessed on their own resources. However, there may be many couples who are still assessed jointly and paying more than they should for care.
What can you do?
Check your financial assessment! If you have been charged as a couple write to the local authority and ask for the assessment to be recalculated on the savings and income of the person needing the care.
If you need any further help or advice regarding financial assessments or any legal aspect of care, please call our specialist team for first free advice on 01926 491181.