Top-up payments for care homes

When a top-up fee towards the cost of a care home may be considered and who is allowed to pay it

Paying for your care

If the Council is arranging your care home place we will allocate an amount of money to meet your needs, based on your care assessment. This is called your ‘personal budget’. The amount in your personal budget must be enough to meet your eligible care needs.

We will complete a financial assessment with you, to work out how much you will need to pay towards the cost of your care. Most people pay something towards the cost of their care. The Council will pay the remainder to make up the amount in your personal budget.

We will always offer you a care home that is affordable within your agreed personal budget.

What is a top-up payment?

If you want to choose a home that is more expensive than the care home we offer, you can still move there as long as someone agrees to pay the difference between what the Council will pay and the preferred care home fee. This is known as a 'top-up payment'.

Who can pay top-up payments?

There are government rules about who can pay a top-up and in most circumstances you are not allowed to pay it yourself if you are the person receiving care. The following information covers top-up payments made by someone else.

A top-up payment is usually made by a friend or relative of the person who receives the care. The person making the top-up payment is often called the 'third party' as they are not the Council and are not the person receiving the care. The third party must make the top-up payment from their own money. Occasionally, a charity may agree to pay someone’s top-up fees. Contact Turn2us to find out if you could be eligible for help.

There is no legal requirement for family members, friends or anybody else to agree to pay a third-party top-up payment and we will always offer a care home place that does not require a top-up to be paid. The decision to make a top-up payment is a voluntary one that is only required if the choice of care home is more expensive than the care home we have offered. Anyone who is considering paying a top-up payment will need to be sure they are able to afford it for some time.

When will the Council consider a top-up payment?

We may consider agreeing a top-up payment if, for example:

  • you, or a family member, would prefer a care home that costs more than the one we have offered or you would like to pay for genuine extras, such as living in a larger than standard room or with a better view
  • you have been self-funding but are now eligible for Council funding; you want to stay in the same home although it is possible for your care needs to be met in a lower-cost home

We will need to know that anyone offering to make a top-up payment is able to do so.

Should I pay for someone else's top-up fees?

Information for the third party

We suggest you take legal and financial advice before agreeing to pay someone else’s top-up fees.

Please consider the following:

  • What would happen if your circumstances changed and you couldn’t afford the top-up?
  • Care home fees may increase every year but we may not always increase the funding for the person receiving the care by the same amount. Therefore, you could find yourself paying more each year to cover the difference in fees

Budgeting tools can help you decide whether you can afford to pay a top-up payment for someone else. For example, you may wish to try using the budgeting tool on the Citizens Advice website. 

How is the top-up arranged?

Information for the third party

The Council’s standard practice for new top-up arrangements is to pay the care home the full fee for the care. This will include the agreed top-up amount and we will bill the third party for this top-up element. This top-up is separate to the amount paid by the person receiving the care (which is called the ‘client contribution’).

Alternatively, if the third party wishes to pay the top-up direct to the care home, this is possible. Please discuss this with the care practitioner.

If you decide you wish to make a top-up payment, and we agree to enter into the agreement, you will be given two copies of the proposed agreement, in the form of a ‘Deed’, for your consideration.

If you decide to enter into this arrangement and make payments from your own money, you will be asked to sign both copies of the Deed and return it to us. A Council representative will sign both copies and one copy will be sent to you for your records. The agreement will include: 

  • how much the top-up payment will be
  • how often the payment will be reviewed
  • how the costs will be shared if the care home puts up its fees in the future
  • what might happen if you can no longer afford the top-up

If you are unable to continue the payments, or if the payments cease for any reason, please be aware that the Council reserves the right to move the person needing care to a less expensive room or a less expensive care home that can meet their needs.