Sensible budgets set and agreed amongst the owners at each court
Services and service charges
All courts benefit from a higher level of services than is typical for sheltered housing. These vary slightly from one court to another but usually include:
- Duty Manager on site 24 hours a day
- Daily check that you are ok
- One and a half hours per week of cleaning for your apartment
- Owner’s lounge, hobbies room and dining room with staffed kitchen serving meals – charged at cost – daily at almost all courts.
- A laundry for washing larger items or having your washing done
- Gardeners (often assisted by owners)
- Guest suite maintenance (supplemented by a fair, per night, cleaning & laundry fee)
- Building maintenance
- Buildings insurance
- Managing agent’s fees
- Future Fund for Maintenance to spread large, predictable maintenance costs fairly, over decades.
The service charge is often surprisingly affordable
Inevitably, better services mean that, even with the tight control of the owners, service charges are higher than for standard sheltered accommodation. At the time of writing (June 2017), service charges range from a little under £500, to a little over £600, per month.
New owners are often pleasantly surprised by the extent to which their household running costs fall on moving to a Retirement Security court, leaving more cash free to pay the service charge than they had anticipated.
In addition, the great majority of owners qualify for the government’s non-means tested Attendance Allowance – a cash benefit intended to reduce your risk of accidents and thus keep you out of an expensive hospital bed. As of June 2017, Attendance Allowance is either £55.65 or £83.10 per week. It can thus cover between approximately 40% and 70% of the total service charge. In addition, pensioners who are “capital rich but cash poor” can qualify for Pension Credit.
We can help you apply for Attendance Allowance
Retirement Security service managers and court managers have helped many hundreds of owners to successfully apply for Attendance Allowance so, whilst the form looks quite daunting at first, we can help you get through it in no time.
Pension Credit: a state benefit to which the value of your property is not relevant
Where applicable, the service managers and court managers can also help you to apply for Pension Credit. Pension Credit is available to many people whose savings amount to no more than £10,000. Pension Credit guarantees a minimum income for a single person who also qualifies for Attendance Allowance of around £360 per week (£1,560 per month). For couples who both also qualify for Attendance Allowance, the minimum is over £600 per week.
In contrast, elderly home owners who move to a care home have to pay the full cost of their care – rarely below £600 per week, often much more – until the value of their assets, including property, has reduced to £23,000.
Additional services are charged at cost
Because the management of the courts is overseen by a board elected from amongst the owners, all costs are kept to a minimum and additional services are passed on at cost.
The most popular additional cost is for meals in the owners’ dining room. Most courts have kitchen staff on duty every lunchtime to serve all those who want a nutritious meal in good company. As with all additional court services, this is provided at cost – typically around £8 for an excellent three course lunch. Meals can be brought to your room, too.
Those who wish, can also have additional housekeeping and have their laundry done for them. The rates for the housekeeping staff vary according to location and experience but, again, are charged on without profit.
All courts have staff who can help should you ever need to put together a care plan. They know the local specialists well, so can also help you to identify the most suitable, qualified people to care for you. You will need to pay for the services of your carers. Many courts are Care Quality Commission certified and a small number employ care staff.
Importantly, the Court Manager and his or her team are always there for you to talk to about your care services. So if there is anything about which you are uncertain or unhappy, they can help you to make it right.