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The Growing Cost of Care Homes Across the UK

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Oak Tree Team

23rd November, 2023

Image of elderly gentleman faced towards window looking out.

Research shows the increasing cost of UK Care homes as it’s revealed that the average cost of care homes in the UK sits at £1,036 per week - 408% higher than the average state pension, which stands at £203.85 per week

In 2023 an ageing population has led to a changing demand for health and social care in the UK. Reports have found that the proportion of older people aged above 75 with a long-term health condition has risen leading to increased demand for NHS care services. Many of these look to care homes to provide much-needed support and residence at this time - however, with rising costs, paying for a Care home is expensive. While there is some help available to meet the cost, the care system can be complicated and difficult to find your way through.

With this in mind, mobility equipment supplier, Oak Tree Mobility has investigated the growing cost of care homes across the UK in 2023 and what support if any is available for those in need.

NHS sign

Care Home Costs - does it add up?

The level of finances that an individual has will be equal to whether or not an individual will receive support for the cost of a care home. Unfortunately, this often means that if an individual has worked all their life to build a healthy savings pot and pension - they will be required to spend their own money to cover the fees. Currently, if an individual has over £23,500 in savings the state won’t pay any money into the cost of a care home under the NHS CHC scheme. 

According to the research, the average cost for a care home is £1,036 per week or £53,832 per year. However, this average masks the stark differences across regions and care types. In the UK, Scotland is currently the most expensive country for care home costs, averaging £1,286 per week and £66,863 per year. In contrast, while Northern Ireland is the most affordable, with an average cost of £792 per week and £41,184 per year, it is still way above what is deemed affordable.

When comparing the average weekly care home cost of £1,036 against the average UK pensioner income – about £12,500 a year for a single pensioner and £26,900 for a couple – the average pensioner is short over £41,332 per year. This amount would only cover approximately ten weeks of care home fees. This stark difference highlights the financial challenge many individuals face when considering care home services in their retirement planning.

Image of pensioner calculating costs

Most Expensive Country for Care Homes

In the UK, care home expenses are highest in Scotland, where the average weekly cost reaches £1,286. Within Scotland, Edinburgh stands out as the priciest, with an average weekly fee of £2,200.

Northern Ireland emerges as the most budget-friendly option for care homes across the UK, presenting an average weekly expense of £791.98. Even in County Down, which is the most expensive within Northern Ireland, the lowest-priced care home offers services at a more modest £623.00 per week.

These figures indicate a "postcode lottery" when it comes to the cost of care homes, with prices varying massively depending on where one lives.

RankCountryAvg Cost per Week (£)Avg Cost per Year (£)
3Channel Islands£1,035£53,842
5Northern Ireland£792£41,184

Top 10 Most Expensive Regions

As Scotland sees the highest costs overall, the most expensive UK regions mirror this trend. The most expensive UK region is Edinburgh with an average cost of £1,739 per week or £90,423 per year. This is followed by Midlothian at £1,632 per week and East Lothian at £1,529 per week. Five out of ten of the most expensive regions are in Scotland.

RankRegionCost per Week (£)Cost per Year (£)
3East Lothian£1,529£79,482

Top 10 Cheapest Regions

While Northern Ireland is the cheapest country for Care Homes, the cheapest overall region was Torfaen in Wales, costing £621 per week or £32,305 per year. Eight of the cheapest locations for care homes can be found in Wales.

RankRegionCost per Week (£)Cost per Year (£)
4Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon)£679£35,308
6Neath - Port Talbot£709£36,868
9County Antrim£791£41,125
10County Armagh£800£41,600

What help can care home residents get?

The level of care home fees that can be paid by the local authority depends on an individual's financial situation and the value of their assets. The government provides financial help for care home fees if an individual meets certain criteria. The eligibility for local authority funding is determined by a financial assessment, which considers an individual's income and assets.

Elderly lady getting an assessment done

Here’s how the means test for social care will look at your capital and how this will affect how much you pay for your care.

Your capitalWhat you will have to pay 
Over £23,250You must pay full fees (known as being self-funding).
Between £14,250 and £23,250You contribute from income included in the means test, such as pensions, plus an assumed, or ‘tariff’ income based on your capital between £14,250 and £23,250. The council pay the remaining cost of your care.
Less than £14,250You no longer pay a ‘tariff’ income based on your capital, but you must continue paying from income included in the means test. The council pay the remaining cost of your care.

The UK government's reform plan for adult social care includes measures to help retirees with care costs. From October 2023, a new £86,000 cap will be introduced on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime. The government will also increase the upper capital limit to £100,000 from £23,250 and the lower capital limit to £20,000 from £14,250. People with assets below the upper capital limit will contribute no more than 20% of their assets per year towards care costs. The Minimum Income Guarantee for those receiving care at home and the Personal Expenses Allowance for care home residents will also rise in line with inflation. However, daily living costs in care homes, set at £200 per week, are not covered by the cap and remain the individual’s responsibility​.

Verity Kick, Marketing Director at Oak Tree Mobility comments, “Amidst the rising costs of care homes in the UK, retirees and their families need to understand the support available to them. With weekly fees averaging over £1,100, many fear the financial strain of long-term care. However, the government has recognized this challenge and is implementing reforms to alleviate the burden. From October 2023, an £86,000 cap on personal care costs will protect retirees from unlimited expenses. Additionally, more generous asset thresholds mean that individuals with assets under £100,000 will receive financial assistance from their local authority, ensuring that care is more accessible for all. It's important to engage with local social services to navigate these options, as the support can significantly reduce the impact of care home fees on retirement savings.”


Oak Tree Mobility sourced data from over 2000 nursing homes across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, direct from the care homes providers’ website and accurate from November 2023. All costs refer to the fees for a single resident and weekly costs.

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