Care home fees now averaging £950 a week in hammer blow for pensioners | Personal Finance | Finance

Some 43 percent, or 154,000, of the 354,000 vulnerable people in homes are now private payers, latest figures show. Many will have been forced to sell their properties or drain their nest eggs to afford their average care home bills.

Back in March 2010, there were 338,000 care home residents, with 130,000, or 38 per cent, paying their own way.

Experts are warning the numbers are set to rise after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt postponed plans to reform social care funding until 2025 at the earliest.

Average weekly fees for private customers have climbed £173 to £949 in 12 months. For councils, they are up £596 to £647, analysis from the care consultancy LaingBuisson shows.

Currently, pensioners needing care undergo a means test to work out if they qualify for funding from their local council.

In England, those with assets of less than £14,250 are funded by the council. Those with between £14,250 and £23,250 are eligible for some help. Anyone with more must pay all their own costs.

But proposals to introduce a cap on care costs of £86,000, alongside more generous upper and lower limits of £100,000 and £20,000, have been pushed back at least two years.

Retirement specialists Just Group said that, had the limits kept pace with inflation, the £23,250 level would have reached £33,000 and the lower £14,250 would now be £20,150.

Stephen Lowe, director of Just Group, said: “It’s a growing problem that will affect many thousands of the most vulnerable people each year, both those receiving care in their own home as well as residents of care homes.

“If the limits were fair in 2010, then why allow the value to erode so much since then? Until now, low inflation has masked the growing unfairness but it will affect increasing numbers until a proper solution is put in place.

“The Government needs to grasp this nettle – you can’t expect people to plan for care when they don’t know what the rules will be.

“I think many people were surprised that, despite huge problems in the sector, there was no mention of adult social care funding in the Budget.”

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