Under the Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, there is a new single national system of eligibility threshold for adults with care and support needs across the country. This ended the post code lottery for social care as, prior to this, it was left to the local authorities to set their own eligibility criteria themselves which varied from one local authority to another.

This is a big change, as all local authorities will now have to follow a set of criteria stated in the regulations to secure care provision to people who need help and those who are disabled. The introduction of the minimum eligibility threshold is one of the biggest changes in the social care system. The Care Act has highlighted the duties of Local Authorities when carrying out assessments for publicly funded care and support.

The Care Act is related to the adult social care and everyone in need of assistance is entitled to help in organising and maybe, paying for care. Your Local Social Services department is there to help. Social care covers the range of care and support services that enable disabled people to remain independent and safe and be active, in order to be an integral part of the community.

To find out what support you may be entitled to, you will need to contact your GP, district nurse or local authority for a health and social care assessment. The assessment is non -binding and you may decide a different course of action if you wish.

The process is a single assessment procedure combining the assessment for local authority social services with health care. During this assessment full details of assets, including property owned by the person needing care will need to be disclosed.

Upon completion of the assessment, the local authority can decide who is eligible for their support.

The Care Act applies to England only and separate laws for social care apply in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Care Act introduced some important changes to the rules that councils must follow when supporting people needing social care.

Further information on the separate laws for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below:

Under these criteria, councils must not look at people's personal needs in isolation, but their general health and well being too. So the assessment will take a whole view of a person's needs and include items such as work and housing needs too - even if the authority doesn't provide those services itself.

If it is judged that a person does not meet the eligibility criteria, they must still support people to identify the help they need and to plan how to get it.

The assessment usually comprises of three stages:

It should be noted that local authorities have the power to make sure that assets have not been transferred or given away to avoid paying for care.

Trying to avoid care home fee payments

Sometimes people deliberately transfer ownership of their assets to someone else in order to reduce what they pay in care home fees. If the local council believes this has happened, they may assess you differently than in the normal assessment procedure:

There is no time limit as to how far back the council can go to find out if you have given away assets to avoid care costs.