Government opens feasibility study into Frank's Law

Health Secretary Shona Robison has confirmed the Scottish Government is looking into offering free personal care to under-65s with conditions such as dementia.

Health Secretary Shona Robison
Health Secretary Shona Robison

The wife of late footballer Frank Kopel has spearheaded the campaign calling for the law change in memory of her husband.

The former Dundee United and Manchester United player was diagnosed with dementia aged 59 and his wife Amanda paid out £1,200 a month for care until he died in 2014, just weeks after he qualified for free personal care on his 65th birthday.

Mrs Kopel wants “Frank’s Law” brought in to end the situation where people under 65 with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other degenerative conditions have to pay for the care they need, and she has lodged a petition with the Government calling for the change.

Ms Robison told MSPs that following concerns about restricting the law to one condition being unfair, the scope of the study had been widened beyond dementia.

She told Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee: “We have agreed that the scope of the feasibility study will look at all those under 65.”

She said the study is “on track” to be completed this summer, adding: “Hopefully the information we get in the summer will give us some clearer options of the way forward.

“Obviously it has to be deliverable. The options have to be affordable and they have to be fair and consistent.

“So what we need to have first of all is the information on which to be able to make some informed decisions about what is possible.”

All parties at Holyrood except the SNP support bringing in Frank’s Law, and Conservative mental health spokesman Miles Briggs has vowed to bring a Member’s Bill forward in the summer if the Scottish Government fails to bring in the new law.

He said: “I’m going to continue with my bill, the whole idea is the parliament has to deliver Frank’s Law. If the government do - great, but if not I’ll bring forward a bill and ask parliament. “I’ll be launching my Frank’s Law bill consultation before we go into recess to run over the summer and hopefully that will hold the SNPs feet to the fire on this issue.”

Ms Robison was also questioned on a separate petition calling for non-residential social care charges for older and disabled people to be scrapped.

She said she wants to “avoid” introducing legislation on the issue in favour of working in partnership with local authorities.