Pensioners face a care funding lottery, insurance company warns as FOI requests reveal ‘huge variation’ in how care homes are funded.
The mutual insurer Royal London sent freedom of information inquiries to 150 English councils with responsibility for funding social care and has received information from over 125 to date.
They discovered there was ‘huge variation’ in the amount local authorities were willing to pay towards care home costs and the extent to which people had to ‘haggle’ with their council to get a good deal.
Royal London identified three different approaches taken by local authorities to funding care.
One third of councils had a fixed ceiling for care home funding which they will not exceed regardless of actual care costs.
Around half of the respondents had a limit which they routinely breached and the remaining councils said everyone was treated on a case-by-case basis.
Commenting on the findings, Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London said: ‘We have uncovered a disturbing patchwork of support for people needing residential care, which varies hugely depending on where you live.
‘The most worrying variation is the extent to which residents are expected to haggle with the council in some parts of the country. Whilst responding to individual needs and circumstances sounds like a good thing, it is very likely that older people who have vocal family members to support them will be able to strike a better deal.
‘Local authorities must be very careful to ensure that they do not take advantage of the poor bargaining power of vulnerable elderly people, leading them to accept the cheapest care provision rather than the most suitable.’