What are the National Variations in the Cost of Long Term Care?

During the first ten years of devolved government in the UK, there has been an evolution of long term care policy. After review of this evolution, it has been discovered that there are variations, of some significance, in the cost and strategies surrounding long term care in different parts of the UK. This is primarily because constituent nations of the UK have had more autonomy and freedom to undergo different long term care strategies under devolution.  There are some similarities between different parts of the UK, the biggest of which is that the population ageing is pretty common to all parts of the UK. This means that each area in the UK is struggling with how to support a population that is living longer than ever. The biggest differences between areas of the UK surround the cost of long term care. All of these changes, both positive and negative, and the differences in the areas of the UK, affect you, the consumer. And it’s important for you to know exactly how these changes, and how long term care works in every area of the UK, before you learn that you need long term care. The cost of long term care can be daunting and knowing how to pay for it can be a challenge.


Differences amongst Parts of the UK

There are some differences, some of them rather significant, amongst the different areas of the UK. The need for long term care varies between areas in the UK. For example, levels of disability are higher in Wales and Northern Ireland than in Scotland and England. Levels of support for these long term care services differ between areas of the UK because of differences in access to funding. Some areas can simply afford to provide better services to its citizens. They can also afford to have higher threshold limits, meaning that consumers in those areas are less likely to have to pay for their own services.

There are also differences in the share of older people, aged 65 and above, in each area of the UK. This means that some areas of the UK require more long term care or residential care than others. In the year 2007, Wales had the highest percentage of their population over age 65 with 27.5%. Scotland was second to this with 24.5%, followed by England with 24% and Northern Ireland with only 13.7%. Furthermore, it is suggested that consumers have shorter periods of disability and poor health in Scotland while older consumers in Wales and Northern Ireland experience much longer periods of time suffering from poor health and disability. This suggests that Wales and Ireland has higher demand on their long term care systems.


Ability to Pay

The ability to pay for long term care varies quite considerably throughout different parts of the UK as does the cost of long term care. There are three main factors that affect the ability to direct purchase care services. These are pensions, savings and investments, and housing equity. Income levels vary quite substantially between different parts of the UK.

There are different savings thresholds in the different areas of the UK. The assets limits depend on where you live. If you live in England, your asset level cannot be greater £23,250, or you will be expected to pay for your care. In Wales, this number is £23,750. In Scotland, the asset limit is £25,250. And in Northern Ireland, the limit is £23,250.

In England, if your assets are between £14,250 and £23,250, you will have to pay for some of your care. In Wales, this range is £23,750 – £23,750, as the lower and upper

limits are the same. In Scotland, the range is £15,500 – £25,250 and in Northern Ireland it is £14,250 – £23,250.

Lastly, to qualify for payment of your care by the local authority, you must have assets below £14,250 in England, £23,750 in Wales, £15,500 in Scotland, and £14,250 in Northern Ireland. While the local authority will pay for your care, it will still take a portion of your income. The amount that you are eligible to keep differs based on where you live. In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, you are able to keep £23.90 per week. In Wales, this number is £24.50 a week.

Before you start paying for care, you should you consult with a professional to ensure that you are not eligible for assistance from your local authority, especially given that assistance and the cost of long term care differ between areas in the UK. Determining how to pay for care can be incredibly stressful for most consumers. Any amount of help from your local authority can be quite helpful when faced with paying for long term care costs.