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Social Services

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people who sold their home to pay for social care in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by local authority area. (226306)

The Government have taken steps to help people avoid having to sell their homes during their lifetime to pay for residential care. Since October 2001, local councils have been able to enter into a deferred payments agreement with people about to enter residential care. This allows people with property, but without income and other assets sufficient to meet their assessed financial contribution to the cost of residential care, to have a legal charge placed on their property to meet any shortfall. The local council then meets the cost of the person's residential care and reclaims the debt from the person's estate when their affairs are wound up. This gives people more options for meeting care home fees and avoids the need for their property to be sold during their lifetime.

Information about the sale of property to pay for residential care by service users supported by councils is not collected centrally. Local authorities also may not know if this has happened in the case of those who arrange their own care, for example, where a person sells a property and contracts with a care provider privately without involving social services. It is not, therefore, possible to estimate the number of homes that may have been sold for this purpose.

The value of the main residence occupied by a service user receiving home care and other non-residential social services must be disregarded when assessing their ability to pay for services.