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

Article updated 5 January 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 18 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
  • The 4 things you need to do but may not yet have thought about

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 care homes

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 care home prices range from £27,000 to £39,000 per annum for a residential care home.  This increases to £35,000 – £55,000 per year if nursing care is required.

The research was undertaken by Laing & Buisson.

How much does a care home cost per week?

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: £

Avoiding Care Home Fees

You can read more about avoiding care home fees below, but this video also gives you some background to what is and is not possible.

You can also see this video about avoiding care home fees on youtube.

Care Home Costs – The 18 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 accommodation fees.

1 – Will I have to pay for my nursing home costs?

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

In simple terms, 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.

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.

If your circumstances mean that you have capital and income under the savings threshold for care home fees of £23,250 you might get some help from your local council, but you may still need to pay some fees. You will be able to look at whether a social care budget can be provided to you.

Anyone classed as having ongoing and substantial care needs could be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare funding.

For example, Alzheimer’s patients with intense and unpredictable care needs, or someone who is recovering from a stroke in their own home following a period in hospital may be eligible.

In this circumstance, through continuing healthcare funding, the NHS will meet all your fees irrespective of the savings threshold for care home fees of £23,250.   You can read more about NHS continuing healthcare funding here.

2 – What alternative are there to a care home?

More and more people are now looking at Live in Care services to provide an alternative to a care home.

This is because it is often much cheaper and also means that you can 1 to 1 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 care.

VIDEO – Here is a short video that explains how live in care works.

You can also see this video on live in care on youtube.

3 – Can I get financial help towards my cost of residential care?

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 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 a continuing care need, then the NHS may be able to fund all your care.

However, to receive this you need to have a ‘primary heath’ need. You can read more about NHS continued health care 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 need to fund this yourself and it is about 20% higher than typical nursing home fees.

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

Care Homes are expensive and there could be better options out there for you!

Use our Equity Release calculator to see how much money you could get from your home, tax-free!


The money can be used to pay for care, take a holiday of a lifetime, top-up your pension, help your family out financially.......and so much more!

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

There is a personal savings threshold for care home 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 support.

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

If you have between £14,250 and £23,250 in capital, you have to contribute 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 of £23,250, you will need to use that capital to pay the full cost of your care.

If you have less than £23,250 in capital, but a weekly income high enough to cover your care home fees, you will be liable to meet them all.

how much does a care home cost

5 – Is the savings threshold for care fees different 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 a care home
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 authority 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 authority may well undertake your means testing including the value of assets that you gave away.  For more information, you can read our article on avoiding care home fees.

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 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.

9 – What if I have assets and savings LESS than £23,250?

If you have been assessed as having less than £23,250 then the costs of your care home costs will be met by your local authority.

10 – How much will local authority pay for a care home?

As part of your financial assessment, your local authority will arrange suitable residential care or nursing home for you.

If you have been told that the local council will help pay 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.  Each council will pay a different amount towards the cost of your care.  Therefore you will need to speak your authority directly to understand what they will pay.

You should remember that this does not mean they will always pay for all your residential and/or nursing care.

You can choose an alternative care home if they charge the same price.

average care home costs

11 – 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 home if it is more expensive than what your local authority will pay. But, you will need to pay the difference in the costs.

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

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’.

More expensive care homes often have nicer facilities, such as firmer beds, leather recliners etc, so they are worth looking at if you, or someone else, can afford it.  You can use the money saved in purchases with discount codes to help for these items.

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

It is really important that you first ensure you are getting all the benefits and credits that you are entitled to.

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 typically 5 ways people use to pay for their care.  You can read about each of these choices 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

Use your Savings

Use income from your investments

Rent out your property if you own one

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

Equity release can be used to pay for your home care (domiciliary 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.

Our experience is that once people see what they can have from equity release, in the form of a tax-free lump sum, it often makes them realise that domiciliary care or live in care is a better alternative.  As it is often cheaper, means you get to stay in your home and you get one to one personalised care.

VIDEO – Here is a short video that explains how it works.

Click the calculator below to see how much you could get. You can read more about equity release calculators on this site.

Try the Equity Release Calculator and see how much money you could get tax-free!

Just click on the Calculator and get an estimate of the thousands of £££'s you could receive to enjoy your later life!

Alternatively, you can speak to an advisor right away. Just call 0800 953 3792.


leave your contact details below and Key Partnerships will get in touch with you.

14 – Who can help me decide what the best way is to fund my care fees?

We have an independent directory of financial advisors that are specialists in helping you decide what your best funding options are. They will be able to give you the financial advice you need to decide on what the best course of action is for you.

The majority of the advisors in the directory are all members of the Society of Later Life Advisors (SOLLA), which means they are specialists in later life care funding.  Always ensure that any advisor you speak too has this qualification as you will know that they can give you the advice that you need.

SOLLA helps people and their families in finding trusted accredited financial advisers who understand financial needs in later life.


15 – How can I avoid paying care home fees?

As you can see from above, it is hard to avoid paying fees, especially where you are taking action solely for the purpose of avoiding care 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 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.

16 – 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 have people come and look after you there.

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.

If you prefer home care services and need some with you permanently, then you can look at Live In Care.   This is becoming very popular as it allows someone to be with you for 24 hours and also allows you to stay at home.

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 people often do is get themselves a more comfortable chair.

cost of residential care

17 – 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 equity release.  You can read our article here on how equity release works.

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

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 equity release we would strongly recommend that you seek financial advice.

18 – What other important things should I think about?

The four most important things that you can do are to:

a) Make a Will 

This will help ensure you determine what happens to your assets.  If you don’t make a will the government will decide what happens to your money and assets, and this may not be in line with what you would have wanted.  You can read more about what will writing services offer here.

b) Create a Lasting Power of Attorney 

This will help ensure that should your mental health deteriorate there is someone in place to make decisions on your behalf.

We strongly recommend that you read this section as there are two types of powers of attorney that you need to consider.  These are a health and welfare power of attorney and a property and financial affairs power of attorney.

c) Set up a Funeral Plan

Not always a topic that is at the forefront of your mind, but it is important to think about how your funeral costs will be met.  The average cost for a funeral plan is now in the region of £6,000  You can read more about funeral plans here.

d) Undertake Estate Planning

Thinking about your assets and what you want to happen to these when the time comes is very important.  Preparing for this is known as Estate Planning.

You can read more about the things to think about with regards to Estate Planning here.

You may also find our article on avoiding inheritance tax interesting.  There are a number of perfectly legitimate routes that you can undertake if you wish to minimise the tax that is paid to the government upon your death.

In addition, the person that is responsible for dealing with your estate will need to get Probate.  This will, therefore, allow that individual to carry out your financial and legal wishes.   You can read more about what it is and Probate costs here.

Do you know if you are entitled to government supports towards the costs of care?

We have worked with Elder to develop a care funding calculator.  It will help you estimate your eligibility for various care funding options.


These will help reduce what you may have to pay towards care.  It really is a very useful calculator if you are thinking about how to pay for your care.

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

See how much cash you have tied up in your house!

Equity release allows you to take cash out of your home.


Click the calculator below to see how much £££ you could get TAX-FREE.  You will definitely be surprised.

Care costs can easily exceed £100,000

We strongly recommend that you speak to an advisor that specialises in different ways to fund your care fees.   


Click the map below to find a care fees advisor in your area.