THE affordability of the Scottish Government’s flagship policy of free personal and nursing care may be “tested” with the cost of provision already surging from £311 million to £494 million in the last decade, a think tank has warned.
Take-up of the free universal service “looks likely to continue to grow” as the government continues to promote caring for older people in their own homes, Fiscal Affairs Scotland stated in a new report.
Free personal care was introduced by Henry McLeish’s Labour administration at Holyrood in 2001, with the policy meaning the elderly received different levels of care north and south of the Border.
The FSA said the average spend per client increased from £5,400 in 2004-05 to around £7,600 by 2010-11 - the existing cost to the public purse.
However, a further sharp rise in costs could place the policy of free personal care under strain, the authors of the report said.
The report said: “The cost of providing FPC support to help people stay in their own homes for longer is averaging around £7,600 per person (4) per year (in 2013-14 prices).
“The on-going affordability of the FPC policy will be further tested if this per client cost rises.”