Call for free personal care

March 27, 2019

Independent Age is once again calling on local councillors to back the public’s call for Government to introduce free personal care for over 65s – something that is available in Scotland, but not in England.

The social care system is broken, often providing poor or limited care, says Independent Age – yet it costs local government billions of pounds every year. According to a report from Age UK, this support is also not meeting the needs of over 1.4 million older people.

The older people's charity is arguing that 90% of older people will not benefit from the care cap and that it will do nothing to improve the quality of care. Free personal care, which has a similar cost to the care cap, will be able to effect real change and address the social care challenges that local government is struggling to address, says Independent Age. It says that free personal care for older people can:

  • Provide a social care guarantee.
  • Provide better value for money for the taxpayer.
  • Reduce the need for residential care placements, which are funded at high cost by local government.
  • Support family carers to spend more time providing emotional support.
  • Enhance the integration of health and social care.

Introducing free personal care would also be an extremely popular move. A recent YouGov poll found that 74% of adults in England aged 18-64 want free personal care for all older people, and 69% would be willing to contribute more to fund it.

In addition, there is growing parliamentary support for free personal care. A recent ComRes poll for Independent Age, which surveyed 116 MPs in England, found that three quarters of them (74%) agreed that free personal care, paid for through a social care contribution, should be provided to all older people needing it. This reinforces the recommendations of the influential Health and Social Care and Housing, Communities and Local Government select committees’ joint report setting out the case for free personal care to be introduced, paid through a social care contribution.

With more than two years having passed since Government announced it would produce a Green Paper on adult social care, the charity has written to council leaders across England, calling on them, their fellow councillors and prospective council candidates, to join the growing support for the introduction of a free personal care guarantee for older people as part of the social care reforms.

George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, commented, 'The introduction of free personal care is affordable and would lead to a fairer system for older people and address many of the social care challenges with which local government is struggling.

'Free personal care will increase accessibility to the support that older people want and need. It can be delivered at a similar cost to the Government’s poorly targeted, high cost, cap on care costs, which will only benefit around 20,000 older people.

'The growing support for free personal care by the public, health and care leaders and parliamentarians shows how this policy could deliver the transformation in social care that is desperately needed.'

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