Free personal care funding in Scotland soars to £500 million

Spending on free personal care in Scotland burst through the £500m barrier last year, a Scottish Government report has disclosed.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said the Scottish Government must support local authorities in delivering the policy. Picture: Alan Murray

Local authorities spent £379m on providing personal care services to older people in their own homes in 2016/17 plus £123m on implementing the policy in care homes.

The document published on Tuesday showed the cost of personal care for people in their own homes has risen by more than £100m in the last decade.

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The sum spent on implementing the flagship policy at home rose from £267m in 2007/08 to £379 in 2016/17 in 2016/17.

According to the report, the extra cash reflects the ageing population and the drive to care for more people at home rather than hospital and care homes. The total expenditure for providing free personal nursing care in care homes saw a slight decrease to £123m last year. But when taking the long term trend into account, it was well beyond the 2007/08 figure of £104m.

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More than 76,000 elderly people in Scotland benefit from the policy with 405,000 hours devoted to the policy per week last year, a rise of 35 per cent over the decade.

The figures led to concern about how the policy, which is supported across the political parties, is financed.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “It is absolutely vital that our elderly population is cared for properly but this is a staggering amount of money to spend on elderly care.

“It is clear that the current policies around elderly health and social care are not delivering the outcomes that we all want to see, and I’ve written to the new Cabinet Secretary for health to request that parliament looks to take stock of where improvements can be made.”

With the policy being extended to people under the age of 65, charities warned the cost would increase. Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “It is likely that more people will require Free Personal and Nursing Care and the Scottish Government needs to support local authorities in light of this, both in terms of financing and how the policy is implemented.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “In 2018-19 we provided an additional £66m to local authorities to support implementation of the Carers Act, maintain payment of the real Living Wage and increase payments for free personal and nursing care.”