Frequent stories in the press of people ‘having to sell their house to pay for care’ rarely mention there are mandatory and discretionary disregards.
Not surprisingly, these myths often translate into ‘going into a care home means you have to sell your home’.
LGC’s research shows that in some councils this can reflect reality. As ever, there are widely varying patterns.
It is heartening to see that more councils are offering deferred payments, but worrying that some still don’t. It might be because they use other means, such as more informal agreements, or placing a legal charge on the property without getting the resident’s agreement.
But if neither of these things happen it begs the question whether people have all the worry of meeting care home fees until their home is sold: in effect forcing them to sell quickly, which was exactly what the government was trying to avoid.
The discretion to ignore the property if there is a carer living in it who is under 60 is also very patchy in some areas.
We know that some councils look very sympathetically at requests - after all, in many cases these carers have saved the council many thousands of pounds. Equally, we hear of carers who are not in a position to buy the property which is their home.
With tighter budgets and looming cuts, we fear that councils will be more reluctant to forgo income.
But behind these figures there will be people who will, at a traumatic time in their lives, be faced with additional anxieties about how they will pay for their care, or what will happen to their carer.
Pauline Thompson, care services policy adviser, Age Concern and Help the Aged