The Prime Minister today announced that disabled and older people with critical needs will be entitled to free care in their homes. This would benefit up to 350,000 people and could mean families who are currently struggling to meet the costs of care could be hundreds of pounds better off.
Gordon Brown said that from October 2010 those with the highest needs would get free personal care in their own homes, with the aim of encouraging saving and helping older people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
Longer term reform would bring together the NHS and local care provision to form a new National Care Service. The government published a Green Paper in July with options for an overhaul of care funding. The consultation ends in November and Ministers are hoping to publish a White Paper before the election.
Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
"I am delighted that Gordon Brown made care such a major part of his speech today. Many families face crippling costs to pay for care and this historic pledge to end the means test for those with the highest need could make a huge difference to their lives.
For a family looking after someone with dementia or MS who will no longer be charged for care, this will reduce the worry and stress of how they will make ends meet.
We need to scrutinise the detail to see just how big a difference it will make to carers, but it will help meet urgent needs while the longer term reform of social care is decided.
We hope that the Prime Minster's announcement will now make social care a major election issue to reflect the scale of the care challenge posed by our ageing society."
Carers UK, Age Concern and Help the Aged, and Counsel and Care held a fringe meeting earlier today at the Labour Party Conference on 'How to make social care the big election issue'. Phil Hope MP, Minister for Care Services attended and spoke about his commitment to the modernisation of social care and a new settlement for care funding.