When is the value of your home disregarded for nursing home fees?  

The recent decision of Walford, R v Worcestershire County Council (2014) – a case which I was involved with at the early stages – has resulted in a daughter succeeding in having the value of her mother’s home disregarded for the calculation of residential care home fees.

Under section 22 of the National Assistance Act 1948, the cost of providing residential accommodation is recoverable from residents subject to their ability to pay. Under Schedule 4 paragraph 2 (1) (b) a property will be disregarded where it was occupied in whole or in part as their home by a relative of the resident who is aged 60 or over. This rule is supported by section 7 of CRAG.

In this particular case the local authority claimed that as daughter Glen maintained a rented flat in London she used her mother Mary’s property more like a holiday home and it should therefore be included in the means assessment.

However, at the hearing earlier this year, the judge found in Glen’s favour concluding that the term ‘home’ is a place to which a person has a “degree of attachment both physical and emotional. The test as to whether a person occupies a premises as their home is both qualitative and quantitative”.

This meant that the local authority could not take the value of the home into account when assessing the contribution towards Mary’s residential home fees.

This ruling will have implications for families up and down the country and it is important to consider the criteria that the Court will take into account when considering which assets can be disregarded in the assessment of capital assets in relation to residential care home costs.

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