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Care home fees: what are the average costs?

There’s no getting around it – care home fees can be expensive.

Often though, residential care is a requirement rather than a luxury, which is why there are various support mechanisms in place to help some people afford the fees.   

Depending on where you live and how much capital you have in savings and other assets, there may be scope for you to seek financial support.

Making sure you’re in the know about care home fees is the first step towards a better lifestyle, whether for yourself or a family member.   

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What is the average cost of a care home? 

Average care home costs can vary across the UK, both on a national and regional level.

According to Which, average care home costs in 2019–2020 were as follows across the four nations: 


Weekly cost of residential care 







Northern Ireland 


However, these averages are not necessarily reflective of regional costs within these countries.

For example, residential care in a nursing home in the south-east of England is likely to cost around 44 per cent more than a nursing home in the north-east. 

Costs can also vary depending on the type of care home, or the specific care that it provides.

Options can include care homes, nursing homes, or care homes with dementia care.

For the latter, the cost is likely to be higher than that of a home that offers more generic residential care.  

Can you avoid paying care home fees?  

The cost of care home fees can be daunting and present a huge challenge to many people that are seeking necessary support in later life.

The good news is that there is support available that helps you avoid paying at least some of the care home fees – mainly from your local authority, though in some circumstances the NHS will also offer support.

But to make the most of this, you must be in a financial position that outlines your inability to pay the care home costs. 

Before you receive support to help you avoid picking up care home costs out of your own pocket, your finances will be reviewed to see whether or not you can viably afford care home fees.  

Some people may try and ‘trick’ the system in this instance, and move their money so that it looks like they have less in the bank than they actually do.

It’s important to note that local authorities take into account any underhand strategies when deciding whether you are eligible for support.  

Getting help with care home fees 

To begin the process of seeking support for care home fees, you need to arrange a care needs assessment.

The assessment is free, and entails a council staff member, such as a social worker or occupational therapist, asking questions about how you are managing with day-to-day activities like cooking, cleaning and washing.  

If, after the assessment, the council decides that you need care, you will then undertake a means-tested financial assessment to establish whether the council will pay towards care home fees.    

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How much will my local authority pay?   

If you do qualify for financial support from your local authority, then they will likely do so in the most cost-effective way possible – meaning you’ll no doubt have to pay some of the fees yourself.

Local councils vary in how much they pay, but generally, they have standard rates that they are prepared to pay as financial support towards care, depending on the level of care that is required.   

However, they should pay a realistic amount towards getting you the care that you need.  

Is there a cap on care home fees? 

Alongside setting out a more generous way of means-testing people that need financial support for care, in 2021 the government outlined its plan for a lifetime cap on the amount anyone would need to pay for care in England. 

From October 2023, a cap of £86,000 will be introduced. Meanwhile, the current point of eligibility will be raised from £23,250 to £100,000 – meaning that anyone with less than £100,000 of chargeable assets won’t need to contribute more than 20 per cent of these assets per year to their care.  

How to pay for care home fees 

There’s a chance you may qualify for financial support towards your care home fees.

Although the local authority is the most regular route of funding, if your needs are primarily health-based, then the NHS will arrange and pay for your care under NHS continuing healthcare (NHS CHC).

This will be established as part of your care needs assessment.  

The current rules of means testing – which are set to change in 2023 – look at people’s capital and establish how much funding they receive in the brackets below.  

How much capital you have 

How much you’ll have to pay 

More than £23,250 

Pay full fees (also known as self-funding) 

Between £14,250 and £23,250 

Contribute from your income included in the means test, such as pensions. Plus, an assumed ‘tariff’ income based on your capital between £14,250 and £23,250.  

The council pay the remaining cost. 

Less than £14,250 

No paying of a ‘tariff’ income based on your capital, but you continue paying from income included in the means test. The council pay the remaining cost. 

If you are moving into a care home, you also won’t be entitled to financial support from your local council if you own your own property. 

Planning for your future is important, and it helps to have experts on your side every step of the way.

Find your perfect financial adviser with Unbiased and start planning today.

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About the author
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.