A quarter of care home residents whose care is supposed to be free are being forced to pay top-up fees, an Age UK report has revealed.
Almost 50,000 families are being forced to pay up to thousands of pounds of year in fees which are meant to be voluntary, the Behind the Headlines report shows.
The research shows that people who have qualified for state-funded support with assets up to £23,250 are being forced to pay top-up weekly fees of between £25 and £100.
Families are being forced to pay for ‘free’ care in order for their loved ones to stay in their chosen area. Top-up fees are also being demanded if the cost of care at a home has gone up or if a ‘self funder’ has run out of money so they become eligible for free care.
Age UK said local authorities were taking advantage of a law which was designed to give elderly people more comfort and freedom.
The charity said the practice of charging top-up fees was also holding up hospital discharges by imposing extra charges which families could not pay.
Age UK called on called on councils to make costs more transparent for residents’ families. The charity added that care home contracts should provide residents with much greater protection against eviction and should clearly set out the circumstances in which providers can give residents notice to leave.