This procedure has been written to support front line practitioners carrying out Care and Support functions to understand their role within the local authority's wider financial assessment process, so that they can:
- Provide good information and advice to people in a timely way;
- Carry out their own functions within the financial assessment process; and
- Work effectively alongside the team responsible for financial assessment.
Although this procedure may be helpful to those people based within the team responsible for financial assessment, it does not provide specific guidance about the process of carrying out a financial assessment, or of any other subsequent action that may be required. Anyone carrying out such actions should refer to available local processes.
See: Assessment of Financial Resources, which is a section of the wider Care Act 2014 area of this site containing information about the following:
- The Purpose of a Financial Assessment;
- General Principles of Financial Assessment;
- When to complete a Financial Assessment (and when not to);
- Methods of Financial Assessment;
- Financial Assessment for people who lack Capacity or do not manage their own finances;
- Financial Assessment of people in a Care Home;
- Financial Assessment of people living in the Community or other Setting;
- Financial Assessment of Carers;
- Examples of what must be taken into account when carrying out a Financial Assessment;
- Examples of what must be disregarded (or partially disregarded) when carrying out a Financial Assessment;
- Deciding how much to Charge;
- Communicating the Outcome of a Financial Assessment;
- Arrangements for Self-Funders.
It is important that you have sufficient knowledge of both:
- The financial assessment process used by the Local Authority; and
- The local charging policy (including the policy around charging carers).
If you do not understand the financial assessment process, or feel confident to provide information and advice to people about it you should speak to your line manager to identify any additional support needs you may have.
It is important that you understand the possible outcomes of financial assessment, as this is likely to be a common question asked of you.
The possible outcomes from financial assessment are that the individual being assessed will:
- Have to make no contribution to the cost of their Care and Support;
- Have to make some contribution to the cost of their Care and Support;
- Have to contribute the full cost of their Care and Support service at the time that it is received; or
- In the case of a person with Care and Support needs only, have to contribute the full cost of their Care and Support service at a later date as agreed by the Local Authority.
The latter option refers to a deferred payment. This is only available in a particular set of circumstances. It can only be offered by the team responsible for financial assessment following a full financial assessment.
See: Deferred Payment Agreements and Alternative Financial Arrangements to read more about deferred payments and when they may be offered.
Information and advice about financial assessment should be provided at the earliest opportunity and good financial information and advice is integral to an individual's consideration of how best to meet both immediate and future needs.
People who have received good information and advice have a much better understanding of how their available resources can be used more flexibly to fund a wider range of care options.
Providing information and advice at an early stage also reduces the likelihood of disputes around financial contribution occurring.
The Care Act sets out the specific information and advice that must be provided about financial assessment. See Specific Requirements on Provision of the Information and Advice around Finances.
You are expected to be able to provide general information and advice about the financial assessment process whenever:
- A person/carer asks for it (reactive); or
- You have identified a need for it (proactive).
This procedure will support you to provide general information and advice, but where required you should:
- Seek the support of your line manager; or
- Contact a practitioner from the team responsible for financial assessment.
See the Financial Assessment and Charging FAQ Response Support Tool for the answers to some frequently asked questions around financial assessment, including questions relating to Disabled Facilities Grants.
Although you are expected to provide general information and advice about financial assessment you are not expected to be able to provide specific financial information or advice that relates to someone's particular financial circumstances.
Where such information or advice is required you must however take steps to ensure that it is made available, either:
- From the team responsible for financial assessment; or
- From an independent financial advisor.
When signposting to an independent financial advisor you should explain that:
- The advisor may charge to access their advice; and
- That there are other sources of independent financial advice available.
If you find yourself providing information and advice that is specific to the circumstances of a particular person/carer, you must consider who you are providing it to, and whether it is appropriate to provide it to them.
Normally it will only be appropriate to provide financial information to:
- The person/carer; or
- Somebody else where clear consent of the person/carer has been given; or
- Where a person with Care and Support needs lacks capacity, a Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions about financial matters; or
- A Donee of a Lasting Power of Attorney who is authorised to make decisions about financial matters; or
- Where the person lacks capacity, and there is no Deputy or Donee a person that you deem it in their Best Interests to provide the information to.
All information and advice that you provide must be given in a way that any person/carer receiving it will best be able to understand and use. This is a legal requirement of the Care Act.
If you provide information and advice but feel that the person/carer for whom it is intended will need additional support to understand it then you should consider:
- Whether the information can be provided in a different way;
- Whether you can take any additional steps to support the person/carer to understand it (for example talking through the information on the telephone or in person);
- Whether it would be appropriate to appoint an independent advocate to support the person/carer to understand and use the information.
For the sole purpose of understanding information and advice there is no duty under the Care Act to provide an independent advocate. This must be a local decision, taking into account the available evidence and presenting circumstances.
If you are not clear what the local arrangements are for the provision of independent advocacy for information and advice you must speak with your line manager before making a referral.
If an early financial assessment has not been completed (see below) a financial assessment must be requested when all of the following have been established:
- Eligible needs (or urgent needs are being met without a needs assessment having yet been completed); and
- Ordinary residence in the Local Authority area (or presence with no settled residence); and
- The chargeable services are to be provided; and
- That the Local Authority intends to use its powers to charge for that service.
Under the Care Act the Local Authority must not charge for the following services:
- Intermediate care and reablement services for up to 6 weeks;
- Aids and minor adaptations (up to the value of £1000);
- After-care services/support provided under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
For all other services the Local Authority has the power to charge but there is no duty to, meaning that decisions can be made to waiver a charge or not charge in specific circumstances.
Under the Care Act it is possible to complete a financial assessment at an earlier stage in the care and support process, as long as all the following applies:
- The individual to be financially assessed has requested an early assessment or it has been requested by somebody legally authorised to make the request); and
- Completing the financial assessment will not have a negative impact on their individual wellbeing (for example, alleviating or causing anxiety); and
- They are likely to have eligible needs; and
- It is likely that a chargeable service will be provided (if a non-chargeable service is likely then a financial assessment is not required); and
- Financial resources are not likely to change by the time that a service is provided.
Early financial assessment should not be carried out:
- To ease the administrative burden of the Local Authority; or
- If the outcome if to be used to restrict access to a service; or
- If the service to be received is non-chargeable under the Care Act; or
- If the Local Authority does not intend to make a charge.
A financial assessment should never be requested if the person with Care and Support needs has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This is because all services must be provided without charge.
It is not lawful for the Local Authority to charge an individual more than they can afford to pay.
However, it is also not lawful for an individual not to contribute if they can afford to do so (and the services received are chargeable).
During statutory reviews (and any other Care and Support process) you should therefore consider:
- Whether there have been any changes in financial circumstances; and
- Where there have been changes, whether the individual can still afford to make the financial contribution.
If there have been any changes, or you are concerned about the affordability of the contribution you should notify the team responsible for financial assessment who will be able to review the current contribution.
You should follow available local processes to request a financial assessment/reassessment.
Following a financial assessment any financial contribution payable should be recorded:
- On the Care and Support Plan (or, if applicable the carer's Support Plan);
- On any electronic financial contribution records.
The start date for any financial contribution should correspond with the start date for the associated Care and Support services unless a decision has been made otherwise through the financial assessment process.
The individual should be notified of the outcome by the assessor at the team responsible for financial assessment who carried it out. This should be done as close to the time that the outcome is decided as possible.
If an individual tells you they are not happy with the outcome of any financial assessment process you should establish if they have been in contact with the assessor at the team responsible for financial assessment about the matter.
If they have not yet contacted the assessor you should:
- Recommend that they do so, on the basis that the assessor is best placed to discuss the information upon which a decision was made; or
- Contact the assessor and request they make contact with the person/carer to discuss their concerns; but
- If they do not wish to/feel able to speak with the assessor, make contact with the assessor yourself to establish the rationale for the decision made; and
- Provide information to the person to support their understanding of the decision.
If they remain unhappy with the outcome you should advise them of their right to complain about it.
Complaints should be made in line with local processes.
Delays in financial assessment must not cause delays in the meeting of eligible needs (or urgent needs).
If a financial assessment cannot be carried out in a timely way you should proceed to arrange for the required services and support to be provided as required.
If the delay is a result of you failing to request the financial assessment in a timely way it is your responsibility to explain:
- The reasons for the delay; and
- That a financial assessment will still be taking place; and
- That if chargeable services begin before the assessment is completed, any contributions will be payable from the date that services start.
If the team responsible for financial assessment has responded to a request in a timely way they should contact the individual to explain this.
This section of the procedure should be used when the team responsible for financial assessment has notified you that:
- An individual has been assessed as able to make a full contribution; and
- A deferred payment agreement is not being made.
The individual will need to make a decision about the best way to arrange and manage the service they will receive from the options available to them.
There are normally 3 possible options:
- The individual will arrange, manage and pay for their own services (self-funding);
- They will manage and pay for their service directly but the Local Authority will make the initial arrangements; or
- The Local Authority will arrange and manage the service on behalf of the individual and seek reimbursement from them for the full amount (full charge).
Reduced Options for People needing Care Home Provision
When requested to do so the Local Authority has a duty to arrange/manage services (options b) and c) above) for anyone making a full financial contribution unless:
- A person with Care and Support needs requires residential or nursing care; and
- They have capacity to make their own arrangements; or
- They lack capacity but there is an appropriate person able to make the arrangements on their behalf.
In this situation the Local Authority does not have to arrange the service but may still choose to do so on a case by case basis if it would:
- Be of benefit to the person; and
- Reduce the risk of further support being required from the Local Authority in the future.
The Local Authority may charge an administration fee to arrange services if the person is:
- Self funding; and
- Does not require residential or nursing home provision.
The position of the Local Authority in respect of this will be set out in any local charging policy.
Your must support the individual to make a decision about the best way to arrange and manage the service they will receive. You should do this by:
- Making sure they understand the options available to them;
- Encouraging them to weigh up the risks and benefits of each available option.
As defined in the Care and Support statutory guidance, these are the things that you should try to encourage them to consider:
- What their preferred option is;
- What the impact on their individual wellbeing would be from the available options;
- Whether the person lacks capacity to make decisions about Care and Support, and if so whether there is an appropriate person to do so on their behalf;
- Whether the person is at risk of abuse or neglect;
- Whether the person has complex needs, or needs that are likely to change (if so it may be beneficial for the Local Authority to arrange their service and maintain a statutory review function);
- Whether the situation is unstable, or at risk of becoming unstable without support from the Local Authority; and
- Whether the person's circumstances limit the options available to them (i.e. if they require residential or nursing home provision they may not be able to request support to arrange this).
The Advocacy Duty
If an independent advocate was appointed to support the individual to take part in previous Care and Support processes you must:
- Consider whether they are likely to continue to require advocacy support; and
- If so, ensure that it is provided.
If an advocate has not previously been required you should consider whether the duty to provide an advocate applies now.
For information about Third Party Contributions (top-ups), including when a top up is payable, who can pay a top-up, how top-ups should be paid and what should be included in a top-up agreement, see: Top-Ups, part of The Assessment of Financial Resources guidance in the Care Act 2014.
It is your responsibility to familiarise yourself with available local processes and guidance for arranging top-ups.
The Local Authority cannot lawfully charge an individual more than the cost of the services they have received.
You must therefore notify the team responsible for financial assessment if you are aware that:
- A service has not been received (either one-off or over a period of time); and
- A financial contribution has been paid during that period.
The team responsible for financial assessment will then determine whether:
- There needs to be any reimbursement of monies paid; or
- Whether a review of regular financial contributions is required.
Not receiving a service may have no impact on the amount of a financial contribution if the total cost of the services they have received in that accounting period is greater than the financial contribution they have been assessed to make.
You must notify the team responsible for financial assessment as soon as possible whenever all chargeable services are no longer required or being provided.
The following must also be updated:
- The person's Care and Support Plan (or, if applicable the carer's Support Plan); and
- Any electronic financial contribution records; so that
- No further financial contributions are made.
You must notify the team responsible for financial assessment whenever:
- There is a change to chargeable services; and
- There is also a change to the Personal Budget amount (increase or reduction).
You do not need to notify the team responsible for financial assessment when:
- There is a change to services; and
- There is no change to the Personal Budget amount.
If there is subsequently a change to the contribution amount the following must be updated:
- The person's Care and Support Plan (or, if applicable the carer's Support Plan);
- Any electronic financial contribution records.
The start date for any financial contribution should correspond with the start date for the associated Care and Support services unless a decision has been made otherwise through the financial reassessment process.
Anyone has the right to refuse to engage in a financial assessment process.
By refusing to engage in a financial assessment process the Local Authority is permitted under the Care Act to reach the conclusion that:
- The individual has sufficient financial resources to pay for the full cost of their care; and
- Seek a full financial contribution as such (through the courts if necessary).
If an individual informs you that they intend to refuse to engage in a financial assessment process you should:
- Establish why they intend to refuse; and
- If required, provide information about the process and purpose of financial assessment; and
- Advise them of the legal implications of refusing an assessment; and
- If they reaffirm their intention to refuse, explain that you must notify the team responsible for financial assessment.
You should then:
- Request a financial assessment in the normal way; but
- Also advise the team responsible for financial assessment of the individual's intention to refuse the assessment; so that
- The team responsible for financial assessment can make a decision about how best to proceed.
The Local Authority has a legal duty to meet eligible needs and must not delay or decline to do this on the basis that an individual has declined to make financial contributions.
This means that:
- You should proceed to arrange for the required services and support to be provided as required; and
- The Local Authority should arrange to seek reimbursement of any monies owed to them (through the Courts if necessary).
The Local Authority has a legal duty to meet eligible needs and must not delay or decline to do this on the basis that the person/carer has declined to make financial contributions.
This means that:
- You should proceed to arrange for the required services and support to be provided as required; or
- Continue to provide any existing services; and
- The Local Authority should arrange to seek reimbursement of any monies owed to them (through the Courts if necessary).
If an individual declines to make a contribution it is the responsibility of the assessor who carried out the financial assessment (or tried to carry out the financial assessment) to contact them and:
- Establish why a contribution has not been made;
- Assess any new evidence that suggests the assessed contribution may require review;
- Make arrangements for the outstanding contributions to be paid; and
- Ensure arrangements are in place for future contributions to be paid.
The assessor at the team responsible for financial assessment may ask you to support them to have the above conversations, especially if you have a good rapport with the individual.
Under the Care Act you must provide support to other professionals when requested (as part of the duty to co-operate) unless doing so would:
- Prevent you from carrying out another duty under the Act; or
- Put a person with Care and Support needs at risk of abuse and neglect.
It is not lawful for someone to deliberately deprive themselves of an asset for the purpose of avoiding making a financial contribution and, if an individual does so legal action can be taken under the Care Act to seek reimbursement.
Examples of possible deprivations include, but are not limited to:
- Making a significant purchase that is out of character;
- Transferring large amounts of money to another person;
- Transferring the deeds of a property to a family member.
You must take action if:
- An individual informs you of their intention to deprive themselves of an asset; or
- You suspect that it is their intention to do so; and
- The deprivation is, or appears to be for the purpose of avoiding making a financial contribution.
If it is clear what the intentions are you should:
- Advise them that proceeding could be unlawful; and
- Advise them of the possible legal and financial implications.
In all cases you must notify the team responsible for financial assessment, whose responsibility it is to make enquiries to satisfy themselves that a deprivation of assets has or has not occurred.
Any view you have about an individual's inability to afford to make a contribution should:
- Be evidence based; and
- Be based on information not previously considered by the team responsible for financial assessment.
Evidence could include information about Disability Related Expenses that the person failed to declare to the assessor
In the first instance you should discuss your evidence with the assessor who carried out the financial assessment. They will decide whether or not, on the basis of this:
- The original assessment should be reviewed; or
- The original assessment stands.
If the assessor decides that the original assessment stands (either straight away or following review) you should only take further action if you believe that the assessor has not taken into account the new evidence that you provided.
If you believe this to be so you should:
- Discuss this with your line manager; and
- Agree whether a waiver request should or should not be submitted.
Last Updated: September 29, 2021