Which? submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to 180 local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and found huge variations in the standard weekly rate councils will contribute to the funding of residential care.
Generally, authorities in London and the south of England gave the highest rates, while the lowest were in the north. However, areas that are very close together can vary widely in care costs. In Greater London, Which? found a difference of £138 for the standard weekly rate between neighbouring boroughs Bromley (£555) and Croydon (£417).
Their research also shows around a third (36%) of councils have a maximum standard rate of £434 for personal care, with more than half (53%) giving us a maximum of £435 to £539. One in 10 (11%) councils gave a maximum of more than £540. The highest rate they found was Lewisham’s maximum of £768, while Blackburn and Darwen gave a rate of £357.
Living in a care home can cost up to £1,000 per week and half of residents have part or all of their fees paid by the local authority. Many people top up this contribution themselves, and could face potentially high bills in areas where the local authority pays a lower proportion of the full costs.
They found big differences between the standard rate some councils pay and what the cost would be if you were paying for care yourself, also known as self-funding. In Exeter the council pays £442 to £471 a week, while the fees they saw for self-funders were £300 to £1,200. The variation in costs is partly down to local costs such as wages and property, and partly about individual councils negotiating costs with care homes when they bulk-purchase.
Which? Elderly Care offers practical information and advice about arranging care for relatives or yourself. This includes financing options available and this can be found by visiting www.which.co.uk/financing-care. The website includes a helpful tool enabling you to access information that is filtered to your situation and search by postcode for local care services.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
“Understanding the options available for long-term care can be a minefield, particularly with such huge variations in the funding available. People looking to make difficult decisions about care should use free, independent sources of advice, like Which?, to help them find the information that’s relevant to their situation.”