Fair to share cost of free personal care
It IS unfortunate that free personal care for the elderly has attracted so many critical headlines, although, to be fair, your editorial (29 August) does try to present a more balanced view.
I must declare a personal interest, belonging to that particular age group, but I also worked for many years in the NHS, caring for elderly people.
It must be pointed out that the driving force behind this measure was the difficulty, and often the unfairness, in trying to separate the health costs of care, which were free, and the social costs, which were not. The financial burden fell on older people with some money, not on those with no money or those who were comparatively rich.
The decision that this care should not be means tested was, in my view, the correct one.
However, accepting the principle of free personal care should not preclude examining how the policy is working in practice and, indeed, reluctantly looking at the proposals from the Dilnot Commission report.
In my experience there was a lot of unmet need in this area and some of the increased costs over the years are understandable.
It is also claimed that many more people are being cared for in their own homes rather being in expensive residential care.
If this is the case, significant costs are being saved from other budgets and it should not be too difficult to produce figures proving this.
In a fair, caring society one of the reasons for paying income tax is to fund health and social care. Is it too old-fashioned a concept to believe that those in society who are better off should contribute more? Spurious reasons put forward to justify richer people not contributing their fair share should be ignored and it should be remembered that older people do pay tax and some will soon be losing tax allowances.
(Dr) Charles M Corser
Your report, that expenditure on “free” personal and nursing care is now approaching £500 million, is a stark reminder that nothing in this world is really free.
Along with free bus travel, free prescriptions, winter fuel allowances and free tuition at university, taxpayers, often poorer than the end user, have to foot the bill.
As we approach a referendum on our future we need to have honesty from our Scottish politicians who like to offer something apparently for nothing in order to win elections, without explaining that their generosity will lead to substantially higher taxes for the 2.2 million basic-rate taxpayers in Scotland.
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