Labour pledges free personal care for over 65s under £6bn scheme

Home Caregiver with senior woman in bathroom

The Labour Party has pledged to introduce free personal care for older people so they can live independently in their own homes.

Labour said its £6bn plans for a National Care Service will more than double the number of people receiving state-funded care and reduce the number of people facing “catastrophic” costs for their care.

It would bring England into line with Scotland, where personal care is free for those with the most severe needs.

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Announcing the plans at the Labour Party Conference today, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will also pledge to address the funding gap in social care; raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts, ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time; end 15-minute care visits; and improve access to training and development for care staff.

In his keynote speech at the conference today, McDonnell will say: “I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life,” he will say. “The truth is our social care sector is a national scandal.

“The next Labour government will introduce personal care free at the point of use in England.

“Funded not through the Conservatives’ gimmicky insurance schemes. But, like the NHS and our other essentials, through general taxation.”

A recent study by Independent Age found that more than three-quarters of people (78%) across England support the introduction of free personal care for people aged 65 and over who need it, and 74% would contribute more in some way to fund it.

It said free personal care will significantly reduce the lifetime costs individuals face. Those receiving care at home would face no costs, while those in residential care would bear only the cost of board and lodging.

Welcoming the plans, Rehana Azam, national secretary for GMB, the union for care workers, said: “The Shadow Chancellor has made a bold and welcome commitment not only to championing the role and contribution of care workers but to delivering the pay, working conditions and access to professional development that any working professional should expect.

“Labour’s plan would give care with the funding it needs, while also providing the crucial support the care workforce requires.

“This is in sharp contrast to a serially unreliable and untrustworthy Tory Prime Minister who had promised a plan for social care to great fanfare but has yet again failed to deliver.”

Steven Cameron, pensions director, at Aegon said: “Labour’s plans for a £6 billion National Care Service, to offer free personal care to elderly individuals meeting eligibility criteria sets the stakes higher for the Conservatives to deliver on their long overdue promise of a new social care funding deal.

“While Labour is proposing free personal care which should allow more people to remain in their own homes, individuals will still need to fund ‘room and board’ themselves if they need residential care. This needs to be set out clearly so individuals understand far ahead of actually needing care what they’ll be expected to pay.

“Labour has indicated it would pay for this very substantial spending commitment from general taxation. All eyes will be on its next Manifesto to see the details, including if this will come from income or wealth taxes, or a combination, and whether any attempt will be made to ring fence extra tax receipts and earmark these specifically for social care.”

Tags : free personal careLabour PartyNational care servicepersonal care
Sarah Clarke

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