All three main parties say they want to integrate health and social care. While the idea of better integration of health and social care has its merits, there cannot be any real integration of health and social care unless the conundrum of free health care but means tested social care is resolved. The only practical and humane way for this to happen is if personal social care becomes free just as health care is.
This was the recommendation of the 1999 Royal Commission which the then Labour government in England rejected, but which was implemented by the Scottish Labour government in 2002 and which continues to be the policy in Scotland.
The recent Barker Commission report commissioned by the Kings Fund recommended that personal social care for people over 65 with critical or substantial needs should be free. They estimated this would cost an extra £3 billion a year. Including those with moderate care needs would cost an extra £7 billion a year.
Regarding the costs of non personal social care i.e. the “hotel” costs of residential care homes or nursing homes, we agree with the recommendations of the 2011 Commission on Funding of Care and Support (Dilnot Commission) which recommended a lifetime cap on care costs of £35,000 and the means-tested threshold, above which people are liable for their full care costs, should be increased from £23,250 to £100,000.
- We will introduce free personal social care and increase funding to meet the needs of vulnerable elderly and disabled people
- We call for implementation of the Dilnot Commission recommendations.