Paying for Services

ADVICE NI’S HELPLINES REMAIN OPEN

We will not be providing face-to-face advice or training for the foreseeable future. We will contact existing advice clients by phone. Our staff will continue to support our members and can be reached via telephone and email as usual.

We are working hard to move our training, where possible, to digital. For any queries, please contact our training team at [email protected]

We can only provide advice to people living in Northern Ireland. 

Helpline contact details:

Welfare Changes ring 0808 802 0020 or email [email protected]
Tax & Benefits ring 0800 988 2377 or email [email protected]
Business Debt ring 0800 083 8018 or email [email protected]
Debt Action ring 0800 028 1881 or email [email protected]
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For Historical Institutional Abuse advice and support call 02890 645919 email [email protected]

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Once an assessment of need has been carried out and a decision taken as to what services are to be provided to meet your needs, a financial assessment may be needed.

This assessment will determine whether or not you will have to pay for, or make a contribution to, the cost of providing the services.

The issue of who pays for community care services is one which gives rise to many queries.

The rules which apply to charging for home help services are different to those which apply to residential and respite care. The principal difference is that Trusts have a duty to impose charges for residential accommodation whereas there is only a power to charge in respect of the whole range of non-residential services.

Fundamental Principles

Even with this important distinction there are some fundamental principles which apply to all aspects of charging.

Assessment of Need

All decisions about the provision of services must be made independently of any consideration of your financial resources.

This means that assessment of need is the first stage in the process and must be carried out before any consideration of your financial situation.

The second stage will then identify the services required to meet those care needs.

Financial Assessment

The third stage of the charging process will consider your ability to pay. Regardless of whether a trust has a duty or discretion to impose a charge, it must take into your ability to pay in determining the amount of any charge. There are no fixed charges and any charge imposed by social services must not exceed what is reasonable for you to pay.

Inability or Failure to Pay

It is also important to note that if you have been assessed as needing a service, social services may not refuse to provide the service if you are unable to or fail to pay the charge imposed.

A Trust may take legal action in seeking to recover any charge as a debt but it is still legally obliged to continue to provide the service.

Government Guidance on Charges

The Government issues relevant and up-to-date information  in Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG)(PDF 903KB).