Dispatches - "How to Avoid the Dementia Tax"

On Monday 20 November 2017 Channel 4 broadcast a Dispatches episode titled "How to Avoid the Dementia Tax".  The episode focused on the circumstances in which individuals can find themselves funding their own care fees despite the availability of Local Authority and NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.

To summarise, if you have assets and savings worth over £23,250 you will be expected to contribute towards the costs of your care.  If receiving care at home, the value of your home will not be taken into account in quantifying this threshold.  If you are moving into care, the value of your home can be taken into account when assessing your entitlement to assistance from the Local Authority.

However, everyone has a legal right to receive a Local Authority Care Assessment.  A Local Authority cannot refuse an assessment because your savings may be above the threshold.  The Local Authority will assess your care needs and check whether you meet the nationally set criteria.  If you qualify for care, the Local Authority will also carry out a financial assessment to calculate the contribution you are required to pay for your care.

Alternatively, NHS Continuing Healthcare is not means tested.  Instead the NHS is responsible for providing full funding for individuals whose primary need is a "health need".  The list of conditions that qualify for funding are not clear and the requirements are quite strict.  However, you may be eligible if you suffer from a terminal illness, behavioural or cognitive disorders or long-term medical conditions.  Again, if you believe you could meet these requirements, you are entitled to ask your GP or Social Worker for a Continuing Healthcare assessment which will be carried out by the local Clinical Commissioning Group.

Unfortunately Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups vary widely in their approaches to assessments in different counties.  The Dispatches episode highlighted this issue and the need for individuals to be made aware that they are able to challenge decisions if they feel their assessment has not been carried out correctly. 

In addition, the Dispatches episode also highlighted problems arising whereby an individual tries to protect their assets from being used to fund the costs of care by transferring them to their partner or children.  Such action can be deemed to be a deliberate deprivation of assets which a Local Authority could challenge in order to recoup the costs of care.  It is therefore imperative that expert advice is sought by individuals facing decisions about their future care particularly as the area undergoes reform in the face of growing demand.  The Ashfords' Trusts & Estates team are able to provide further advice to clients when planning for their future care needs.

You can find the link to the Dispatches episode here.

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