When a spouse goes into care, a partner who remains at home will often face financial hardship as their expenditure remains unchanged while their available income declines.
It is therefore vitally important that we understand how local authorities should treat private pensions in such circumstances and this latest ruling confirms the position.
If an individual goes into residential or nursing care while their spouse continues to live independently, the financial assessment will be based on savings which they have in their own name and 50% of an held jointly.
If their capital is below the upper state threshold of £23,250, they will be entitled to financial support, but this will take into account their pension income. However, 50% of any private pension income must be disregarded if it is paid to their spouse and this can be a vital financial lifeline to the partner who continues to live independently.
In a recent decision from The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, a local authority’s financial assessment process was criticised for failing to do this.
The Ombudsman said the council put too high a threshold on the proof it required to demonstrate the man was paying money to his wife. It said a joint account was not evidence of this, despite accepting the wife was using the money for her maintenance. The Ombudsman concluded that the council’s poor calculations meant there was a delay in funding the gentleman’s care.