The number of people forced to sell their property to pay for their place in a care home is to be counted for the first time.

The Office for National Statistics has declared it will find out the figure following Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s election pledge that ‘nobody should sell their home to pay for the cost of that care’.

People admitted to care homes must pay the bill from the value of their homes once their savings run out, but until now no count has been made of how many of the 450,000 living in care homes at any one time have been forced to sell property to do so.

Number of people forced to sell their home to pay for nursing care will be counted for the first time

Number of people forced to sell their home to pay for nursing care will be counted for the first time

The Office for National Statistics declared it will find out the number of people forced to sell their property to pay for their place in a care home (file photo)

Estimates put the number at between 40,000 and 70,000 a year, but the lack of a firm figure means Mr Johnson cannot know the potential cost of his pledge. 

The Daily Mail has campaigned to end the injustice of families of patients with dementia and other illnesses having to spend billions on care.

Under a means test run by councils in England, anyone with savings and property worth more than £23,250 must pay their care home bills. 

Once that threshold is reached, councils pay a share of the bills until a resident’s assets are down to £14,250.

After someone’s savings have dwindled to this figure, the council will pay care home fees, but those who still own a property must sell it to meet the bills.

Sophie John of the ONS said: ‘Historically, social care has not been measured with the same depth of data and analysis as healthcare due to a scarcity of funding.

‘This is problematic for researchers, academics and policy makers who require sufficient evidence upon which to make informed decisions.’

She added: ‘We are working to identify the gaps in evidence in adult social care data. Areas of interest include investigating data availability on unpaid carers and self-funders to seek to improve knowledge of individual care journeys and outcomes.’

The only organisations which know how many care home residents have to sell their houses or flats are local councils and their adult social care departments. However authorities have never tried to compile a full register of the details.

Informal estimates from politicians and analysts have suggested that numbers forced to sell each year may run between 40,000 and 70,000.

Number of people forced to sell their home to pay for nursing care will be counted for the first time

Number of people forced to sell their home to pay for nursing care will be counted for the first time

Estimates put the number of people who sell their homes for nursing care at between 40,000 and 70,000 a year, but the number has never before been counted (file photo) 

The lack of any firm assessment means Mr Johnson cannot know the potential cost of his pledge as he draws up long-awaited reforms of the social care system.

Under the means test run by councils social service departments in England, anybody with savings and property worth more than £23,250 must pay their own bills when they go into a care home. 

Once that threshold is reached, councils pay a share of the bills until a resident’s assets are down to £14,250. After someone’s savings have dwindled to that point, the council will pay the care home fees.

If someone has used up their savings but still owns a house or a flat, social workers will demand they sell it in order to meet the bills.

The Tory election manifesto last year said that ‘the prerequisite of any solution will be a guarantee that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it’, and in an interview in January Mr Johnson declared: ‘Nobody should sell their home to pay for the cost of that care. We will do that.’

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