Cost of free personal care in Scotland rises to £500m

1 Aug 18

The cost of the Scottish Government’s flagship free personal care policy has topped £500m for the first time, reflecting the trend towards looking after older people in their own homes.

New statistics show that in 2016-17 local authorities spent £379m on providing personal care for people living at home, a 42% increase over the previous ten years.

In comparison, payments to self-funding care home residents cost councils £123m, up around 18% over the same period.

The report attributed the increase in expenditure to the growing proportion of older people being cared for at home, the shift towards home care workers providing personal care rather than domestic services and the fact that those living at home had increasing levels of need.

Free personal care was introduced in Scotland with cross party backing in 2002.

Under the policy, people aged 65 and over can no longer be charged for personal care services provided in their own home.

Those aged 65 or over who live in care homes and are assessed as self-funders can receive a weekly payment towards their personal care, while self-funding care home residents of all ages can receive a further payment if they require nursing care.

The Scottish Government plans to extend free personal care to all younger adults who require it by next year.  

Jeane Freeman, cabinet secretary for health and sport, said that more than 76,000 older people had benefitted from the policy in 2016-17.

“Scotland continues to be the only country in the UK that provides free personal care,” she said.

“We have committed to extending free personal care by April 2019, to adults aged under 65 who need it, and we are working on implementation alongside our advisory group of representatives from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, councils, health and social care partnerships, care providers and others.”

She added that an additional £66m had been provided to councils this year to support implementation of the Carers Act, maintain payment of the real Living Wage and increase payments for free personal and nursing care.

But the increase in expenditure was described as “staggering” by Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs.

“It is clear that the current policies around elderly health and social care are not delivering the outcomes that we all want to see, and I’ve written to the new cabinet secretary for health to request that parliament looks to take stock of where improvements can be made,” he said.

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