Third party contributions or top-ups

If you choose to stay in a care home that is more expensive than the council normally pays, a friend or family member can make-up the difference in price. This is known as a third party contribution.

Your right to choose a care home

If you have been assessed as eligible for social care support and in need of residential or nursing accommodation you have a right to choose the care home you live in.

You can choose any care home so long as it has a vacancy, can meet your assessed needs and it accepts the council's terms and conditions for care homes.

How much will the council pay?

Every year the council sets out the price it expects to pay for residential and nursing accommodation. This is known as the usual price.

You will receive a financial assessment which will decide how much you can afford to contribute towards the council's usual price for your residential or nursing care. This is sometimes referred to as the client contribution.

When is a third party contribution needed?

Some care homes charge more than the council's usual price because they offer more expensive accommodation.

If you want to stay in a more expensive care home you can, so long as somebody else makes up the difference in price. This person is known as the 'third party' and the payment they make is a 'third party contribution' (or 'top up').

If you need to stay in a more expensive home, even though you have not chosen it (for example if your needs cannot be met elsewhere), a third party contribution is not needed as the council will pay the full price for the accommodation.

Who can pay a third party contribution?

Third party contributions can be made by:

  • A friend
  • A relative or family member
  • Any other person, such as a charitable organisation

Government rules say a resident cannot fund their own third party contribution, even if they have capital they can use. However, if you have a property to sell there might be options for you to pay the top up. Please contact the welfare and financial assessments team on 01432 383444 if you would like further information about this.

How do the arrangements work?

The care home, council and third party must all agree to the third party contribution. The third party must sign an agreement form with the council which will set out how much they will need to pay, to whom and how often.

A care home should not ask a resident, their family, friends or carers directly for a third party contribution, as the council also has to be involved and sign the agreement. If this happens please let the welfare and financial assessments team know immediately on 01432 383444.

Before signing the agreement the third party must be sure they can keep making the payments for as long as you are in the care home.

Will the third party contribution amount change?

Care homes can change their rates over time, but they must let the council know so that we can check if the third party contribution needs to change.

Before agreeing to make third party contributions the third party must understand it is likely the amount they pay will increase over time.

If a care home increases its rates there is no guarantee that this increase in cost will be shared equally between the council and third party.

What happens if the third party is no longer able to pay?

If the third party stops paying or becomes unable or unwilling to pay their contribution this might result in you having to move to a different care home where the rates are within the council's usual price. The council will also seek to recover any unpaid contributions from the third party.

More information and advice

To speak to someone at the council about third party contributions, please contact the welfare and financial assessments team:

Third party contributions (top-ups) policy 2017