Home help bills for elderly hit £20,000 in postcode lottery of home care
Demands are being made to those who have savings or assets worth more than £23,250
By STEVE DOUGHTY
Last updated at 9:18 AM on 10th November 2011
Vulnerable: Help at home can be costly
Frail elderly people who need help at home are facing a postcode lottery of charges by councils ranging from £2,500 to
£20,000 a year, it was revealed yesterday.
The demands are being made to those who planned for their retirement and have savings, property or assets worth
more than £23,250.
This threshold is used by most councils as the dividing line between OAPs who are given free help and those who must
But a disparity in charges means that paying for basic help in some areas can cost the elderly almost as much as a
place in a private residential care home.
The cost of care at home – which includes everyday but vital services such as help getting washed or dressed, cooking
and shopping – was disclosed in a survey carried out for a nursing agency.
It found that while some local authorities charge as little as £50 a week for their help, others charge more than £400 for
the same services.
On average, those who own their homes and have middle-income pensions are being asked to pay nearly £300 a week
in England for home care.
Disclosure of the high costs for help at home to those who saved for a comfortable retirement comes amid deepening
concern over the way local authorities are treating vulnerable and disabled people who are able to stay in their own homes
only if they are given the right care package.
FEE INCREASE FOLLOWING HIGH COURT RULING
More than 100 councils that had frozen the fees they paid for state-funded residents in private care homes will now have to increase
them, following a ruling by a High Court judge yesterday.
Budget cuts saw councils freeze or cut payments, but that left families often having to pay ‘top-up’ fees to cover the cost of care for
Four years ago the state care regulator, then called the Commission for Social Care Inspection – since replaced by the Care Quality
Commission – warned that 300,000 people with savings above the £23,250 threshold were ‘lost’ by the state care system and shut
out from getting any help at all.
Yesterday’s figures show that councils are now offering help to those on middle incomes, but at a hefty price.
The report was carried out for Prestige Nursing + Care among 41 councils – one in five of all authorities with social services
Jonathan Bruce, Prestige’s managing director, said: ‘Each council prioritises services differently and tailors its spending to balance its
own needs, but the result is a system that is confusing and unfair for those requiring care as there is no uniformity between areas.’
The survey confirmed that many councils have withdrawn free help from all but the most sick and disabled as part of cutbacks.
And it found just one in five – 22 per cent – of councils give free help to people with ‘moderate’ needs – classed as those who cannot
carry out personal or domestic routines such as washing, dressing or housework.
Mr Bruce called for a national system for deciding who gets free care and what others should pay.
The report said that the maximum amount charged for care at home was £402 a week by a council in England. Fees of £200 a week
are common, it said, and the average charge for care found across England was £284 a week.
Fees were lower in Wales and Scotland, with one Welsh council setting a maximum charge of £50.