The demographic map of the UK is changing. Most of us are now living longer; in 2017 those aged 85+ were 1.35m in number, and this figure could reach 2m by 2031. Although this is wonderful news in many ways (more time with our loved ones!), it also brings significant challenges when it comes to financial planning.
First of all, it implies that people’s retirement funds will need to stretch further compared to previous generations. In 1980, for instance, an Englishman aged 65 had a 1/1000 chance of reaching 100 years old. Today (nearly 40 years later), those odds have shrunk to around 1/100.
This increased longevity is likely to put additional strain on the already overstretched State Pension and is one of the reasons why most employers are no longer offering employees Defined Benefit pensions (which pay a guaranteed lifetime income in retirement). Careful financial planning will, therefore, be needed more than ever to ensure we have the income we need in our later years.
Secondly, increasing life expectancy is also projected to accompany an increase in health problems amongst older people. In particular, research shows that the number of retired people with diabetes, depression, cancer and dementia is likely to at least double by 2035. Many of these conditions require some level of professional care, which come at a significant cost.
Given these trends, projections and figures, it is little wonder that at FAS we are often asked about what people can do to prepare for the possible costs of their future long-term care. In this short guide, we’ll be sharing some of our thoughts on this important subject. If you want to discuss your care strategy with one of our experienced financial planners, please do give us a call.
The Cost of Care
In 2019-20, the precise amount you pay for care depends on a range of factors including:
- Where you live in the country.
- The level of care you need (e.g. 24/7 intensive or temporary and residential).
- The quality of the care home in question.
- Your financial situation.
At the moment, there are around 400,000 people living in care homes across the UK; a figure which is set to rise to 1.2m by 2040. Residential care costs can vary greatly, but typically range from £600-£900 per week. Indeed, some people face annual care costs exceeding £50,000.
Ways to Fund it
£50,000 and similar figures are clearly eye-watering for most people to look at. After all, just 3-years in residential care could cost £150,000; enough to wipe out a significant portion of an Estate, and by extension a family’s Inheritance. How, then, can you prepare your finances for this large, yet unpredictable cost in the future?
In 2019-20, those possessing less than £23,250 in assets are entitled to financial support from their local council, to help cover the fees. If you (or a dependent, child or spouse/partner) continue living at home whilst you receive care, then the value of your house is not normally counted within the means-test determining whether you are eligible for council support.
We do not recommend that you deliberately deprive yourself of assets in order to try and get around this system. Not only does this leave you financially vulnerable, but the council is also likely to detect such deprivation strategies and calculate your care fees as if you still owned the home/assets you have sold or given away.
What, then, are some of the other options you can consider with your financial planner when it comes to creating a strategy for long-term care funding?
Own Income & Family
Some people are in the fortunate position where their siblings, children or other loved ones can contribute towards the costs of their care. This, combined with your own pension income as well as other savings and investments, could be enough to meet your care costs.
Many people are cash-poor but asset-rich by owning a property. In such circumstances, downsizing or Equity Release could be an option to access funds needed to cover care costs. These are hugely important financial decisions with far-reaching implications for your financial plan, so we recommend that you speak with a financial planner about any decision or strategy involving using your property to fund your long-term care costs. It might be that other, more appealing options are available to you.
Care/Immediate Needs Annuity
With the help of an experienced financial planner, it is possible to find a good insurance plan which can help you meet your care costs. These plans usually involve paying a company a one-off lump sum in exchange for a guaranteed lifetime income (tax-free), which would be paid directly to your care home. The amount you pay for the annuity will vary depending on factors such as your age and health.
Many commentators have described the UK’s care system as in a state of “crisis”, and many people are understandably worried about how they will cover these possible future costs. However, at FAS we can help you can assess your options with a clear mind and with the best information available.
This content is for information purposes only.