Care home fees

The issue of elderly clients taking steps with their money or assets, which could be considered to be avoiding care home fees, has been with us for a long time.

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The issue of elderly clients taking steps with their money or assets, which could be considered to be avoiding care home fees, has been with us for a long time. If a person’s capital and income is above £23,250, they are likely to have to pay for all or most of their care home fees.

The Local Authority will calculate what a person must contribute and the Authority may have to make up the difference.

Age UK remind us that:

‘If someone intentionally reduces their assets - such as money, property or income - so these won’t be included in the financial assessment for care home fees, this is known as ‘deprivation of assets’. If your local council concludes you have deliberately reduced your assets to avoid paying care home fees, they may still calculate your fees as if you still owned the assets.

Deprivation of assets applies when you intentionally reduce your assets, such as money, property or income, so these won’t be included when the council calculates how much you need to pay towards the care you receive.
When your council is deciding whether getting rid of property and money has been a deliberate deprivation of assets, they will consider two things:

  1. You must have known at the time you got rid of your property or money that you needed or may need care and support
  2. Avoiding paying for care must have been a significant reason for giving away your home or reducing your savings.

It’s not just giving away your money that could be seen as a deliberate deprivation of assets. Different methods of reducing your money or property could count too, including:

  • giving away a lump sum of money
  • transferring the title deeds of your property to someone else
  • suddenly spending a lot of money in way which is unusual with your normal spending
  • gambling the money away
  • using savings to buy possessions, such as jewellery or a car, which would be excluded from the means test.’

It has always been a complex assessment to decide whether gifting money or a house amounts to deliberate deprivation of assets. Local Authorities now have much less money available to them and are therefore looking very closely at such applications.

In a recent case the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman criticised a Local Authority for wrongly concluding that an elderly woman had spent her money to avoid paying care home fees. The Local Authority refused to pay for her care when it found out that she had made regular cash gifts to her family after she went into a care home.

This is a complex area and it could be vital for a person going into care to ensure that they get the correct advice as to what they should be paying for their care.

To discuss this or any other related issue, contact us.

Members: Simon Shaw, Elizabeth Rimell and Janice Leyland.
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