care home fees

Care Home Costs & Fees in the UK – A definitive guide on all nursing home costs and prices in 2020

Article updated May 2020 and written by Rose Walters.

I’m sure you will agree that when it comes to finding out about the costs of a care home, it can get very confusing!

On this page, this is the help you will find:

  • The top questions you will likely have about the cost of nursing home accommodation in the UK
  • The top 3 things that impact care home fees in the UK
  • A care fees calculator to help you work out your weekly and annual care home prices, no matter where in the UK you live
  • Alternatives to care homes that you should consider, such as live in care services

Background to care home and residential care prices

UK care home fees, sometimes referred to as nursing home fees, are something that you need to calculate carefully, particularly as accommodation fees can be over £1,500 per week!

We have produced a care costs calculator (below) that will allow you to put in the area of the country where you live and use that to estimate the average cost of care homes over the short, medium and long term.

Once you have done this, we would strongly recommend that you look at the different ways in which you can meet your care home fees.

Cost of average care home fees and prices

The cost of care homes depends on where in the UK you live and what type of care you need. The latest research shows that average care home fees range from £27,000 to £39,000 per annum for a residential care home.  Care costs increase to £35,000 – £55,000 per year if nursing care is required.

The support research was undertaken by Laing & Buisson.

cost of care homes

How much do care homes cost per week?

Use the calculator below if you want to know how much care homes cost.

Care Costs Calculator – Use the Green Residential calculator below to estimate the cost of care homes near you


Please select your current area (by county)

What year will you go into residential care?

How many years will you be in the care home?

Total Cost: £


Please select your current area (by county)

What year will you start needing home care?

How many hours a week of care do you need?

How many years will you need home care for?

Total Cost: £

Care Home Costs – The key questions answered about care home prices and nursing home costs

Answered below are some of the regular questions we get asked about care home prices.

1 – Will I have to pay for my nursing care?

Your ability to pay for care will be determined through a means test called a Care Needs Assessment.  You can read more about that here.

In simple terms, as part of the means test, the accommodation where you live, ie your property. will not be included if you’re arranging care and support at home and may not be included if you live with a partner, child, or a relative who is disabled or over the age of 60.

Therefore, in this circumstance, you will not need to sell your house and you may be eligible for some support.

The cut-off point after which you are responsible for meeting your own care home charges is £23,250.  If you are paying your own fees then this is known as self-funding.  If your capital and income are above this then it is likely that you will need to provide for your own care fees.

2 – What alternative are there to a care home?

More and more older people that need help are now looking at Live in Care and personal care services to provide an alternative to a care home. We would recommend you look at this as you may be eligible to use this option instead.

This is because it is often much cheaper and also means that you can 1 to 1 personal care support, which is important to a lot of families. The costs are also cheaper as you are responsible for providing accommodation for the carer, typically in the home of the person receiving the personal care.

3 – Can I get financial help towards the cost of my nursing home fees?

The financial support available will depend on what wealth you have, but if you live in England and have savings of more than £23,250 then paying for care will be your responsibility. This is known as self-funding.

At present, the cost of residential care will be means-tested through a care needs support and financial assessment, which means the more money you have, the less financial support you potentially can receive through a social care budget.

However, if you have what is considered as continuing care needs, then NHS continuing healthcare may still be able to fund all your care. This would be considered outside of any means test financial assessment.

However, to receive this support you need to have a ‘primary health’ need. You can read more about NHS continuing healthcare funding here. If you are looking at fees for someone with dementia, it is likely that the NHS won’t treat this as a primary need.

Therefore, you may still need to fund this yourself and it is about 20% higher than typical nursing care home fees.

Before you move into a care home, your local council will undertake a care needs and financial assessment, which include your income, savings and property and then calculate how much you will need to pay towards your care.

care home fees uk

4 – What is the savings threshold for care home fees?

There is a personal savings threshold for care homes fees in the UK.

If you live in either England or Northern Ireland and has capital of less than £14,250 (based on 2019/20 rates), you will be entitled to maximum financial help and support. In effect, this means full local authority funding.

Anyone receiving full local authority funding will have to contribute all of their income (including benefits, which they must claim) to the local council, except for the personal expense allowance.

If you have between £14,250 and £23,250 in capital, you have to pay towards your fees.

You will have to pay £1 for every £250 of your savings between £14,250 and £23,250. This is known as ‘tariff income’ and they will also need to contribute all of their income towards the fees, except for the personal expenses allowance.

As explained above, the personal savings threshold is something you need to consider. If you have capital of more than the savings threshold then you will need to use that capital to pay the full cost of your care.

how much does a care home cost

5 – Does the savings threshold for care fees differ depending on where I live in the UK?

The savings threshold for differs depending on which part of the country you live:

England £23,250
Wales £24,000 for home care or £50,000 for care homes
Scotland £28,000
Northern Ireland £23,250

6 – What savings count towards the £23,250 when assessing for the costs of care homes?

When your local council assesses you to see if paying for care is your responsibility, it will look to include things such as:

  • The value of your property – although this is excluded if your partner or close relative still lives there
  • The value of any private and State pensions
  • The value of any savings and interest you earn from those savings
  • Some benefits like Pension Credit, Attendance allowance or the care component of Disability Living Allowance.

7 – What if I have savings GREATER than £23,250

If you have been assessed as having more than £23,250 then paying for your care will be your responsibility. But there may be some alternatives to consider.

8 – What happens if I give away my assets so I have less than £23,250?

If you give away some of your assets as a gift, say to your children, and then look to claim assistance from your local council, they may well say that you have done this deliberately to avoid paying for your care costs.

This is called ‘self-deprivation of assets’ and the local council may well undertake your means testing including the value of assets that you gave away.

This is a complicated area but doesn’t mean you cannot pass what you have to family and friends.  If you are interested in protecting your wealth then you may also be able to do so by putting them into a trust.  The three most popular types are:

  • Protective Property Trusts – They allow you to save a portion of your property to pass on to loved ones. They are also known as ‘Property Trust wills’
  • Life Interest Trusts – Allows you to allocate a beneficiary (usually yourself and/or a spouse or wider family member) who then has the legal right to receive income from or use a property named in the trust
  • Interest in Possession Trusts – It’s a trust fund set up to entitle the beneficiary of the trust to any income as soon as it is produced.  They are very similar to Life Interest Trusts.

how much will local authority pay for care home

9 – How much will your local council pay for care home?

When you look at how much will local authority pay for a care home, as part of your care needs and financial assessment, your local council will arrange suitable residential care home or nursing care home for you depending on how much they are willing to contribute.

This amount of support changes between local councils.

If you have been told that the local council will help pay and support towards the cost of care, then they will also tell you how much they are willing to pay towards the cost of your residential care home.

10 – Can I move into a more expensive care home than the one my local authority suggests?

Paying for care means that you have some discretion over where you go.

You can choose to move into residential care or a nursing care home if it is more expensive than what your local council will pay for care. But, you will need to pay the difference in cost.

If your local authority will only pay £500 per week but the home you have chosen is £700, then you will need to arrange for someone to pay the additional £200.

You will not be able to pay this if your assets are less than £23,250. The additional amount is usually paid by a third party (usually a friend or relative) and is called a ‘third party contribution’.

care home fees cap

11 – How can I pay for my care home charges?

It is really important that you first ensure you are getting all the support, benefits (eg attendance allowance) and credits that you are entitled to, as older people can also receive specific age related support.

You then need to ensure that you look at all your wealth savings and think carefully about how you will use them in the most efficient way.

There are a number of ways people use to pay for care.  some of these choices are below:

Buy a Care Annuity

Use a deferred payment agreement – This is where your Local Authority effectively pays for your care and levies a cost against your home

12. Can I use equity release to pay for care home fees

The simple answer is, YES.

It can be used to pay for your home care (also known as domiciliary care or social care)  and live-in care.  However, it is more complicated if you are moving to a care home.  One option you could investigate is using the proceeds to buy a care annuity.

You can read more about equity release calculators on this site.

13 – How can I avoid paying care home fees?

However, by planning your finances early and efficiently, you can mitigate some of the impacts.

Also if you do your planning early enough it may also be possible to use a trust to transfer ownership of your home and therefore not have it counted towards the cost of any care.

Read our section on how to avoid care home fees if this is of interest. We would strongly suggest you take professional advice if you are looking at this route.

Another option to consider maybe getting respite care.  This means that if you are caring for someone, you can get a carer to come and take your place for a short while.  You can read about respite care and costs on this website.   This could be cheaper than putting someone in a care home full time.

how much do care homes cost per week

14 – Is there an alternative to going into a care home?

An alternative option to consider is receiving care in the home from a home care services. This means that you stay in your own house and you can have younger and older people come and look after you there (depending on your age of course).

This is increasingly becoming a popular option as this is much cheaper than going in to care home and allows you to remain in an environment where you are comfortable and familiar.

You can read more about live in care here. In our view, this type of care will take over from residential care, just as it brings a better experience for the person needing care.

If you do decide that care at home is a better option than there are a number of things that you can do to make your life much more comfortable.  For example, the first thing that older people often do is get themselves a more comfortable chair.

15 – Do I have other care funding options available if I receive care at home instead of going to a care home?

Yes. If you are considering receiving domiciliary care, then one further funding option to consider would be releasing equity

The reason why these schemes are popular, and in particular ‘Lifetime Mortgages‘, Drawdown Lifetime Mortgages and Home Reversion Plans, is because they:

a) allow you to stay at home

b) allow you to access cash tax-free from your home

c) allow you to use the money to modify your home to allow you to continue to live comfortably at home

how much do care homes cost

Try the equity release calculator below and see how much money you can get out of your house to help pay for your care costs.

I think you will be surprised at what you could get……tax-free!

If you are looking at this we would strongly recommend that you seek financial advice.

Summary of care home prices

How much does a care home cost?

The cost of a care home depends on a variety of factors including the quality, services provided and importantly where in the UK you are located. You can use the calculator on our website to estimate what your care home fees are likely to be. However, the typical range is £30,000 to £50,000 per year.

What are the alternatives to a care home?

The main alternative is to use Live in Care. This is where a carer lives with you 24 hours er day. The costs can be cheaper but more importantly, it means that you receive one to one care. Something that you would not get in a care home. You can read more about Live in Care on our site.

What is the best way to pay for my care home fees?

You can easily pay £100,000 during your time in care. Therefore, it is essential that you speak to a care fees advisor who can set out all the options that you have and what the most efficient way to pay would be. Our site sets out 12 different ways that you can pay for your care.

Can I put my house in a Trust to avoid care home fees?

If your only intention is to use a trust to avoid care fees then this is not possible, as it is seen as a deprivation of assets. However, if you do it early enough and with planning then you can use a Trust so that your home is excluded from any calculation towards your care home costs.

About the author and her expertise

This article was written by Rose Walters a published writer that has written on a range of care related topics.   Rose writes from a lot of personal experience and is able to bring this in to the writing alongside the specialist knowledge she has on these topics.

More useful information below

Why you should get your Lasting Powers of Attorney sorted

Why you should get your Will written

Why you should do your Estate Planning before its too late

Care Home costs can easily exceed £100,000.  Therefore, more and more people are looking to see whether care can be undertaken in the home. Equity release is often used to pay for this.  See below if it could work for you.

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Avoid expensive care home fees by paying for care at home.  See how much money you could get from equity release.