Care home costs rocket to £29k a year

7 August 2014

A single room in a UK care home now costs £28,666 a year on average - 54% more than the average pensioner's income.

That cost soars for people needing care in the South East, where the average residential care home place currently stands at £32,760; dipping marginally in the South West to £31,512.

Scotland is the only part of the UK to have seen care home costs fall over the past year - down £17 to £27,768 - but the cost of care is lowest in the North East at £24,648 a year.

The annual cost of residential care across the UK as a whole is more than double the average pensioner's income of £13,993, and the £299 rise between 2013 and 2014 was 54% more than the £194 average income gain pensioners received over the same period, research from Prestige Nursing + Care has found.

It said the gap between incomes and care costs has increased by £9 a week, or £477 a year, since 2012. Pensioners living in care homes are now having to deal with an income shortfall of £282 per week or £14,673 a year.

However, the gap between care costs and pensioner incomes has narrowed to 104.9% of the average pensioner's earnings after tax from pensions, benefits, work and investments has been deducted. This compares favourably to 105.6% in 2013 and 107.5% in 2012.

Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing + Care, said: "The fact that care home fees have grown at a slower rate than in previous years will be scant consolation for pensioners as the cost gap continues to widen in real terms.

Cavernous divide

"As council cuts drastically reduce eligibility for financial support in all but the most severe cases - with more cuts planned - many people are staring at a cavernous divide between their income in later life and the sums needed to pay for residential care."

Meanwhile, people are increasingly realising they will need to fund their own care costs in later life, according to pension income company Partnership.

Over a third (39%) of over-45s believe those who can sell their homes to pay for care should, according to a Partnership survey, and the proportion of people expecting to rely on State funding to cover care costs has fallen to 33%, its lowest level in three years. In 2012, the proportion was 51%.

The company's research also found that 47% of those surveyed said the government should not help people who can meet the costs from their savings.

Partnership found that 35% planned to sell their home to meet their care costs and 11% said they might rent it out. Some 34% said they would use their pension income, 29% their savings and 16% income from savings and investments.

Thomas Kenny, head of technical pricing at Partnership, said: "It is good news for the country that people are increasingly expecting to meet some of the costs themselves and for others to do the same. This means that the State can focus on helping those who are most vulnerable and in need of state support."

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