Retirement Income  

Labour pledges free personal care for over-65s

Labour pledges free personal care for over-65s

Labour is to promise free personal care in England for the over 65s, to help retirees live independently in their own homes and drive down the cost of social care.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will unveil the social care policy in his keynote speech to the Labour conference this afternoon (September 23).

He will pledge if the Labour party wins the next General Election it will introduce legislation to ensure that those most in need receive free personal care, which means they will not have to pay for help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals in their own homes, and residential care.

Under the plans people with dementia will receive the same level of care as those with other conditions which, Labour says, will reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.

Free personal care is already available to adults in Scotland who need these services but in England only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care.

It is estimated that Labour's plans will cost £6bn in 2020/21, rising to £8bn a year by 2030/31, and will more than double the number of people receiving state-funded care.

In a speech seen by FTAdviser, Mr McDonnell said the measure will be funded through general taxation rather than through “gimmicky insurance schemes”.

Further details will be set out in Labour's election manifesto.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s shadow social care and mental health minister, said: “Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour.

"Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.

“It is vital that social care is a universally-available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care. Our National Care Service will have these principles at its core.”

The move comes as the Tory government promised local authorities £1.5bn in extra funding for social care.

In his spending review this month (September 4), chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid pledged local government authorities will receive £1bn through a new grant and £500m through the adult social care precept and hinted further reforms would be announced "in due course".

The chancellor said prime minister Boris Johnson “has committed to a clear plan to fix social care, and give every older person the dignity and security they deserve”.

But there is still no movement on the social care green paper which was originally expected in summer 2018 but has faced several delays.

Several solutions for the care funding problem are said to be on the table, including the ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a 'care pension', which mixes drawdown and care insurance.

amy.austin@ft.com