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Making sense of the latest community care and charging for care fees legislation

The Care Act 2014 introduced long awaited and fundamental reform to the laws regulating access to community care and charging for care fees.

Unfortunately, three years on, there is still widespread confusion about what it covers and how the legislation works, particularly when it comes to ensuring that the needs of those who require community care are met.

Confusion

Trying to understand The Care Act 2014, some parts of which came into force in April 2015 as planned with other parts delayed until 2020, can not only be taxing but bewildering and frightening too.

But we can guide and advise you on the rules in relation to charging for care, both in the community and in a care home setting, including what can and cannot be taken into account in terms of assets and income.

Financial assessments

At the moment, in England, anyone with more than £14,250 is expected to pay something towards the cost of their care, and those whose assets exceed £23,250 get no help at all.

With respect to financial assessments, we may advise that you seek the advice of an independent financial advisor to check if certain investments may count as exempt assets that the funding authority should not take into account for charging purposes.

Some bonds contain a life assurance element and as such may not be included as assets in the assessment, which could result in a significant reduction in the amount of capital to be used up on care fees.

The proposed cap on how much an individual should pay for care in their lifetime has not to date been implemented. This was proposed to be set at £72,000 but local authorities objected on the grounds that there were insufficient public funds to pay for this.

This means that as at April 2018, the local authority funding threshold of £23,250 still applies throughout England. Therefore anyone with capital, including property, over £23,250 will not be eligible for state funded care unless they qualify for NHS or S117 Mental Health Act funding.

Other associated legal issues

We can assist with:

  • Determining when a community care assessment/financial assessment should take place and advising on action to take if this has not been done;
  • Whether you or a relative may be eligible for the Funded Nursing Care element of NHS funding or Continuing Health Care funding and how to go about arranging an assessment of needs;
  • Whether or not a property, or share of property may be an exempt asset under the charging rules;
  • What is likely to constitute a "deprivation" of capital or income from the charging authority's point of view;
  • When a Deferred Payment Scheme charge may be appropriate;
  • The role and duties of a financial attorney (under a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney) or Deputy for Property and Affairs to ensure appropriate funding is obtained and relevant applications are made;
  • The rights and obligations of individuals living in a property owned by a relative who has gone into a care home;
  • Generally, how to deal with disputes or queries with the local authority around care fees charging.

For help and advice, please contact Wards Solicitors' Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team, now one of the biggest in the South West. The majority of its lawyers are either student or full members of Solicitors for the Elderly.