United Kingdom

How much are care home fees in your area?

The weekly cost of staying at a care home is £848 on average but varies dramatically across the country, new research reveals.

At the extremes, prices range from £1,488 a week in Islington in London to £621 in Blaenau Gwent in Wales, according to figures from insurer Legal & General.

The local cost breakdown comes as politicians urge the Government to launch a long-term plan to fund social care, and to integrate the system more closely with the NHS.

Reforms awaited: Government plans for social care have effectively been on hold since the 2017 election

The system is also under close scrutiny as many care home residents have died during the coronavirus pandemic, and the tragedy could deter many elderly people from using them in future. 

Meanwhile, the Government has delayed announcing social care reform plans promised in the Conservative election manifesto, which offered a 'guarantee' that no one needing care will have to sell their home to pay for it.

More than 17,000 pensioners were forced to sell homes to pay for social care in 2019, research by This is Money's sister publication Money Mail recently revealed. 

The L&G research shows that across Great Britain, London has the most costly residential care, with Islington followed by Westminster at £1,483 a week and Hammersmith & Fulham at £1,468.

How is care paid for at present? 

Under the current system someone's assets - including the family home - is depleted down to £23,250 if they need to go into a care home.

If you need care in your own home, your assets must be depleted to a level set by your local council, which cannot be lower than £23,250, but your home is excluded from this means test.

Outside the capital, prices are highest at Windsor & Maidenhead at £1,203 a week, and Elmbridge in Surrey at £1,142 a week.

The cheapest prices after Blaenau Gwent are Merthyr Tydfil at £641 a week, Blackpool at £644 a week and Stoke-on-Trent at £646 a week.

L&G says that on average, there is a £229 difference between the cost of weekly residential care and council paid fees.

Its care cost calculator here allows you to input your postcode and find out the average weekly cost of a care home in your local authority area. See the table below for average costs in major cities.

L&G has also launched a 'concierge service' to help families find a care home and fund residential stays.

This includes a phone advice service and can involve liaison and price negotiation. It costs £60, £300 or £600 depending on what level of help you choose.

Former Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently floated the idea of following the lead of Japan and Germany in introducing a small surcharge for over-40s, which rises as you grow older, to fund care costs. 

MPs on the health and social care committee, which Hunt now chairs, have separately proposed a £46,000 cap on every individual's social care bill and an immediate £7billion injection of cash to address a funding crisis.

They endorsed an upper limit on what people should pay towards care, to protect them against 'catastrophic' costs, at the same level suggested in the influential, government-backed Dilnot report in 2011. 

At the end of last year, Andy Burnham, a Labour predecessor as health secretary who is now Mayor of Greater Manchester, suggested placing social care within the NHS.

Residential care: Weekly average cost in major cities (Source: L&G and LaingBuisson)

Burham said the coronavirus has revealed how 'broken' the social care system is, and that it would be 'immoral' not to reform it.

But he warned it would be a 'waste of money' to introduce a new tax or levy to fund the system without fundamental changes to the way care is delivered.

Government plans for social care have effectively been on hold since the 2017 election, when former PM Theresa May's idea to introduce a £100,000 'floor' on personal contributions bombed so badly with voters that it was dropped mid-campaign. 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: 'We are focused on ensuring all those adult social care continue to receive the very best care and support during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

'We have provided billions of pounds of additional funding to the care sector, with further support being made available to respond to Covid-19, including regular testing of staff and residents, free PPE and prioritising staff and residents for vaccinations.

'We remain committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals as soon as possible..

The DHSC said it had provided £2.5bn of extra funding to councils for social care in the current year, and it expected to provide a further £3billion to help manage the impact of Covid-19.

Dr Sam Roberts, managing director of health and care at L&G Retail Retirement, says of the firm's research on weekly care costs across the country: 'The reality is that there is no national system of long-term care.

'It is a complex process that can be very different for individuals based on a number of factors, such as their benefit entitlements or health needs.

'However, we are seeing some great innovations and initiatives in the market to improve the cost and quality of care.

'Even so, we know, from our conversations, that people can benefit from personal guidance to navigate a complicated system with a lot of considerations.'

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