Home care charges are a postcode lottery with fees for users ranging from zero to nearly £18 an hour between areas, according to a study by Which?.
Freedom of Information requests made by the consumers’ body revealed that some service users in Cheshire East, Oxfordshire and the London boroughs of Lambeth and Kingston-upon-Thames faced were charged more than £17 an hour, while care was free for residents in Tower Hamlets and Newham, east London.
Broadly, it found that charges for personal care tended to increase the further south in Britain, with services free in Scotland.
Regional differences in the costs of care were one explanation for this but the way councils allocated resources was also important.
Which? also found large local variations in charges for day care and meals.
The Welsh government is due to impose a country-wide cap of £50 a week on all charges for community-based care and legislation is on the statute book to make personal care at home free in England for those with the highest needs.