Paying for care and support

Information about paying for care in the community, charges for living in a care home and how to get independent financial advice.

Unlike the NHS, social care is not free, and most people have to pay towards the cost of their care and support services. 

Paying for care and support in the community

This section explains what you will have to contribute towards the cost of your care and support in the community.
It does not cover what you will pay if you live in a care home.
You will not have to contribute to the cost of your care and support outside a care home if:

  • It is mental health after-care following compulsory hospital treatment
  • You are living in a care home and already paying charges for that
  • You have variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

How we work out what people will contribute
People pay towards the cost of their care and support as much as they can afford.
We carry out a financial assessment to decide what you can afford to pay – or you can tell us that you don’t want a financial assessment, and pay the full cost.
If your income comes entirely from benefits, we usually expect disability benefits to be used to pay charges.
Nobody will be asked to pay more than they can reasonably afford. You will have a chance to tell us about expenses related to your disability or other financial issues which affect your ability to pay.
If you could have arranged your service privately, but choose to ask us to make the arrangements instead, we may make a small administrative charge.
Each person in a couple who needs support will be assessed separately, on the basis of their own income and savings, and their share of joint income and savings. ¢
How we will ask you to pay your contribution
If you decide to manage all of the funding for your care and support yourself, we may deduct your contribution from the payments we make to you.
Otherwise, we will ask you to pay your contribution by Direct Debit.
If you would have a problem paying by Direct Debit, you can discuss options with the Financial Assessment and Benefits Officer.
What services cost
If you ask us to arrange services for you, your contribution will be based on the cost of these services, up to the maximum you can afford.
The exact cost will depend on the length of your visits – shorter visits cost more per minute than longer ones, because of travel costs.
Home care charges are based on the planned length of the visit, not the actual time it takes care workers to provide the support you need on each particular visit.
For current figures see Information Sheet C8 which you can find here: Northumberland County Council - Social care information sheets.
The costs of day care and other services vary.
Meals and transport
If you ask us to arrange a traditional day care service which includes meals or transport to the service, you will have to pay charges for these on top of the contributions described above. These charges are paid directly to the day care centre.
If you will be taking meals or refreshments there is usually a fixed charge with no reductions for people who eat only some of the food provided.
Some day services may offer different arrangements, such as a cafeteria.
If you use transport provided by the centre, or funded by us, to get to a day service, there is a daily charge. For current figures see information sheet C8 which you can find here: Northumberland County Council - Social care information sheets.
If we arrange for you to go out with an “enabler” to a specific place, you will pay the standard transport charge – but if you choose where to go, you will usually pay a mileage rate, or the fare if you go by public transport (unless you can use a pass). ¢
Short break (respite) care
If you ask us to arrange a short break in a care home for you, your charges will also be based on an assessment of what you can afford to pay. The rules are different from those for care at home, but if you have previously had a financial assessment, we will usually already have collected the information which we need to set your charge for short break care.
If not, a Financial Assessment and Benefits Officer will contact you.
The charge will vary, depending on your circumstances.
It will usually be higher than your maximum charge for care at home.
What if I cannot afford to pay this much?
If you get Attendance Allowance, PIP or DLA, you may need to spend some of that benefit on other extra costs that you have because of your disability or illness. We will take account of this when we assess what you can afford to pay.
If you get one of these benefits and you think your costs are higher than our standard allowance, you have a right to ask us to look at your necessary disability-related expenditure in detail, and base the allowance we make on what you need to spend.
If you tell us that you can’t reasonably pay the assessed charge for other reasons, we will discuss that with you, and look in detail at all of your income and expenditure.
Your care manager can arrange that.
Further information
You can find further information about paying for care and support in our Information Sheet section here.
If you have questions about your charges which your care manager cannot help with, please contact our Charges Helpline on (01670) 622 891, or write to:
Finance Section,
Adult Services,
County Hall,
NE61 2EF

This section explains what you will pay if you live in a care home under an arrangement funded by the Council. The charges apply to any care home where the County Council is providing the funding, including nursing homes and homes owned by the Council.

When we agree to support you in a care home, a financial assessment and benefits officer will contact you and collect all the necessary information about your finances.

They will be able to give you more detailed advice about how charges are calculated.
If you need to move into a care home quickly, this may have to happen after you move in.
If your financial circumstances change after you move into a home, you must let us know as soon as possible so that we can review your charge.
Will I have to pay?
Most people living in care homes do have to pay towards the fees, though they can claim social security benefits to help them if they do not have enough money of their own.
Some people living in care homes are paid for by the NHS, and do not have to pay charges.
You will also not have to pay charges for mental health after-care following compulsory hospital treatment, or if you have variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
How will the charge be calculated?
The detailed rules about charges are complicated.
The most that anyone has to pay is the full fee for the home, but you will only pay this much if you can afford to do so.
You can find information about the typical weekly care home fees, and how we work out your contribution, in Information Sheet C9 here: Northumberland County Council - Social care information sheets.
What about my house?
If you need to live permanently in a care home, the value of your house will be treated as part of your savings, once you have been a permanent resident for more than twelve weeks.
We will make allowance for the cost of selling your house, and any outstanding mortgage charges against it. (The value of your home will not be taken into account if you are a temporary resident, even if you are in the home for more than twelve weeks).
If you do not wish to sell your home now, or if you have difficulty doing so, we can delay asking for part of the charge until you decide to sell it (should you die, the fees will have to be paid then).
The financial assessment and benefits officer you speak to will be able to provide further information about this option.
What about my spouse, partner or carer?
There are special rules to protect the position of other people who are dependent on you. They affect the way we treat your income and your house.
If you have an occupational pension, 50% of this can be transferred to your spouse or partner and not included in the financial assessment.
The Financial Assessment and Benefits Officer you speak to can give advice about whether your spouse would benefit from this (for some people it adversely affects benefit payments).
We will ignore the value of your house when working out charges if your partner is still living there, or a relative who is over 60 or who is incapacitated. We may do the same in other special circumstances – for instance if someone lives there who gave up their own home in order to look after you.
Is there a cap on what people have to pay?
No. The Government announced in 2021 that it planned to introduce a cap on the total cost of care services that people have to pay over the whole period when they need care and support. Their initial intention was to introduce this from October 2023, but it was later decided that this would not happen before October 2025.
Contacting us
For further information, contact:
Finance Section (Care home charges)
Adult Services,
County Hall
NE61 2EF
Phone: (01670) 624 834
Further information
You can find further information about paying for care and support in our Information Sheet section here.

There are many individuals, companies and not for profit organisations who offer financial advice.

  • Independent Financial Advisers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority who maintain a Financial Services Register. 
  • Paying for Care is a not-for-profit website that gives information about the financial aspects of care and can help you to identify an adviser that may be able to help you. 
  • Which? provides information about paying for care online. 
  • The Society of later life advisers (SOLLA) helps people and their families to find trusted, accredited financial advisers who understand financial needs later in life. You can contact them by calling 0845 303 2909

Financial issues about paying for care and support services  

If you have care and support needs, or if you are a carer, this may affect many areas of your life, including your financial commitments. This section explains some of the issues you may need to think about. 

Costs and contract terms for care and support services which you arrange yourself.  

Charges for care and support services which we arrange.  

"Deferred payments" when moving into a care home  

  • The financial assessment and benefits officer carrying out your financial assessment can explain how deferred payments work.  We recommend that you also get independent financial advice. 

Specific financial issues for carers  

Getting access to bank accounts and savings accounts of the person you are looking after, if they have become unable to do so themselves:    

Other financial issues relating to care and support

Additional day-to-day costs (e.g. because you have a special diet, or you have higher heating costs, or you need to use taxis to get around).  
  • There are social security benefits available to help with these costs, which are not means tested or taxed (Attendance Allowance for older people; Personal Independence Payment for working-age adults).  
  • If you have a financial assessment to decide how much you can afford to pay towards the cost of care and support, this will include advice about benefits.  Otherwise, we recommend contacting local advice services (see below)  
Making choices about where to live – for instance to make sure that help is on hand when you need it, or that you don't become isolated.  
  • Age UK provides independent advice about housing choices. 
You may have to give up work and adjust to a lower income than you had planned.  
  • Information and advice about managing personal finances and budgeting are available from the Money Helper
  • You can check what state benefits you might be able to claim if you reduce hours or give up work completely by visiting Turn2Us or by contacting local advice services (see below).  
You may be worried that if your health gets worse you might not be able to look after your own finances.  If so, we recommend thinking now about how you would want your affairs to be managed if that happened.  
  • You can make arrangements now for someone to have “lasting power of attorney” if you ever become unable to make financial decisions yourself.    
  • Age UK have information about this or you could telephone Age UK Northumberland on (01670) 784800. 
Local advice services  
  • Citizens Advice provides information and advice about a wide range of topics, including money, state benefits, housing and employment You can telephone Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4:30pm on 03 444 111 444. 
  • Age UK’s Information and Advice service advises people aged 50 or over, and their families or carers, about benefits, care and support, housing and home adaptations, disability, wills and powers of attorney. You can phone them Monday to Thursday between 10am and 1pm on (01670) 784800.