I was the appointee and had PoA for my late sister, Maria, who unfortunately, passed away 4 months ago. Maria had LD and lived in shared sheltered accommodation with 24/7 care provided by her local authority. I used to look after her finances including her annual Financial Assessment. Maria’s care costs were significantly higher than her benefits, so she always had to make a significant contribution. Her LA used to charge her 90% of her benefits less living allowance + DRE as a contribution. That is its standard formula.
The implication of the LA calculation was that she could only keep the 10% residual amount of her benefits for her ‘personal expenses’ (i.e not living expenses or DRE, e.g for going for a coffee or buying a birthday gift for a niece.) Some years this amounted to less than £10 per week. One year it was less than £2 per week. Not the sort of amount that enables a full and satisfying lifestyle within the community and I believe it is discriminatory.
I argued that if Maria had lived in a care home rather than in the community she would have been entitled to a statutory protected Personal Expense Allowance of £28.25 per week (current year) for those same ‘personal’ expenses. I didn’t get very far with this argument, but I always felt that there should be the same allowance for all adults in care whether in a care home, at home or in sheltered accommodation… to make sure the individual has enough money for hobbies, interests or family events… not just the essentials.
I am curious to know if any other people using this forum have a similar situation and is there sufficient interest in this “personal expense allowance” principle to make it worth campaigning for?
Thank you for reading this first post of mine.
Hi Mike - welcome to the Forum. Sorry to read of your Loss. I trust you are coping with things as best you can. You can always turn to this forum for support and advice, as you have done now. Support is always willingly given.
Sorry but I don’t have direct experience of your sister’s situation, but I am sure others will be abel to comment. Just wanted to welcome you aboard.
Talk to the Carers UK helpline.
Hi @mikejones Financial assessments are often messy but there are certain fixed rules: from memory, I think the issue of personal expenses is a difficult one, and I’d recommend your contacting the Helpline about it, as @bowlingbun suggests.
For things like this it’s probably best to use the email service: email@example.com should get you there.
Thank you Chris. Best wishes.
Thank you Charles. I appreciate you and @bowlingbun suggest I contact the helpline, but I’m not actually after advice. I’m not even a carer any more, so it may be totally inappropriate for me to be writing here (but I still care, if you know what I mean).
I have lengthy experience of Financial Assessments and was looking to share experiences with others. The only related posts that I can see on this forum relating to Financial Assessments date from 2019, so I haven’t responded to them as it was so long ago, but I was interested to read them. I wondered if my post might start a new thread on the subject, so I hope the initial responses don’t kill it off on day one.
I’m not sure Financial Assessments are messy, but they are definitely rules-based and the outcomes can sometimes seem unfair. That is why my post was aimed at those people who are subject to Financial Assessments in general and perhaps more specifically to family members living independently in the community. This may be only a very small number of people in this group, so it may have very little interest to a majority of people on the forum, but if there are people who wish to share their experience then I would be delighted to hear from them.
My understanding is that each local authority has their own rules, but they share many of the same principles and unfortunately they tend to copy the worst of those principles if it means more money is collected by the LA. It is a national issue and I thought a forum such as this may throw some light on current practice around the country.
Best wishes to you both. Take Care. Mike
Hi @mikejones Most of the rules are standard across councils - even those that are not laid down by government, but some principles do apply, and it seems that it’s often the way that the rules are interpreted that is the problem.
It’s especially true of Disability Related Expenditure. A lot of the advice used by councils was very good for their budgets but less responsive to the needs of disabled people.
Hi Charles. I know you are a moderator and appreciate your general response, but I’d really like feedback from people who are actually subject to Financial Assessments.
Do you currently have a family member that is subject to a Financial Assessment?
Is there a percentage cap on the amount of contribution you have to make. Is it the same as Maria’s = 90%.
Some LA’s were talking about 100% Is this your situation?
My youngest son has a financial assessment. My wife is his Deputy and deals with that side of things at present, although it looks as though I’m going to be sucked in…
He’s in supported living, so the formula is not the same. He retains his benefits and is charged on the basis of someone not in care. This means that he has to have a set amount to live on, rather than the “pocket money”. Under normal circumstances, sheltered accommodation as described by local authorities would be treated the same way - a tenancy, care provided in the home, etc. But if meals are provided in the accommodation, and the care workers are shared, then it has to be treated as a care home, I suspect. Which is where the figures you discuss would come into play. I cannot see how they can justify what your sister had to pay, legally. I seriously believe they have broken the law on this.
I have a particular issue about the “personal expenses”: they are ridiculously low if paid at the minimum recommended by the government, so reducing it further to the figures you mention is totally unreasonable, in my view.
Mike, councils can never be trusted where finances are concerned! I used to manage accounts for a hospital, have accountancy qualifications, ran a business for many years. Mum was disabled and went into residential care for the last year of her life. I reclaimed £8,000 from the council for incorrect application of the rules. My son has severe learning difficulties, I had his client contribution towards his care reduced to zero, he’s in supported living. Please talk to our helpline, because like Charles I think your council HUGELY overcharged your sister. There is something called the Minimum Income Guarantee that should have been applied. On the forum we are not supposed to give too much detail about money matters, but refer everyone to the Helpline. They are brilliant (made me £50 a week better off some years ago) and they have access to lots of information on judgements etc. which we don’t have access to.
Mike, I might not be much help here, but I will relate two recent personal experiences related to finance and care/support costs.
My husband entered residential care in July and underwent a financial assessment. My son went into supported accommodation after three years in residential care, in 2021. In both cases, the amount of money that they are left with once the cost of care is taken, is ridiculously low.
My son lives in a privately rented flat with carer support. His income from benefits is good, better than my own, I think! However, his contribution towards his care was originally about £95, then £45, now nothing. Several years ago there was a judgement on this subject saying that it was disability discrimination to charge those with the highest care needs a greater amount. I’m sure the helpline would have all the details.
That is really interesting @bowlingbun . I will give the helpline a call re my son.
Send me a PM for more info.
Thank you for sharing these details. I too am a retired Finance Director, but that doesn’t seem to help when it comes to care charges. I think it is absolutely remarkable that you secured a zero charge for care costs. It would be wonderful if you could share the secret, or even a clue to the secret.
Just for completeness I should add that I referred my sister’s case to her local councillors, to her local MP and lodged a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman to no avail. I have spoken with university professors, government advisory panels and legal experts on the subject and whilst they agree there is a problem, it doesn’t get resolved. The local authority is not doing anything wrong; even the Care Act provides for individuals to contribute to their care costs (I know, I have read it several times). That is why I thought a campaign of sorts might help others going forward. I am not looking for a reimbursement for my late sister, just a fairer method of calculating contributions to care costs that will leave adults in social care with some spending money of their own.
That is why I thought a bit of fact-finding on shared experiences might help to start with.
Thank you for your input Janet. I don’t know very much about residential care homes except for the guaranteed Personal Expense Allowance I alluded to previously. Your son’s experience seems to mirror my sister’s. I’m not sure how to fix this problem, but I am trying to give it some attention
Mike, three assessments, all different. First two done by a male officer from the financial assessment unit, who I knew fairly well as we also met for mum’s similar assessments, and the third by a female officer. She tried to get it as LOW as possible for M, unlike the male officer. I used to manage the accounts for a hospital in Australia, have a Business Studies degree, and ran our small business for many years. Three assessments, three VERY different results??? They can’t all be right! I thanked the officer who gave M an nil contribution, maybe because I knew about the judges decision elsewhere. I know I have a terrible reputation within Hampshire CC. I never EVER ask anyone for any favours, just to do what they are paid to do. With Disability Related Expenses the LA are supposed to use their discretion, there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes I think they make them up as they go along!!! Maybe the assessor knew I’d reclaimed £8,000 from HCC for mum as they hadn’t applied the rules properly then. They swore blind I’d signed a form, I knew I hadn’t. Long ago I started a charity for families with a special needs child, and still keep in touch with the other mums of my era. Often they ask me for advice - when I tell them of all the problems I’ve had they say “If even you can’t get …what hope is there for us?” Everyone should get the same treatment regardless of circumstances.