Gordon Brown reaffirms commitment to free personal care at home but council leaders warn that costs are unrealistic.
At a speech on health and social care reform at the King’s Fund, on 8 February Gordon Brown reaffirmed the government’s commitment to free personal care at home for people in critical need and to a national care service that matched the values of the national health service. The prime minister said: “Universal guarantees, but also a more personal offer, will be the guiding principles of care reform and our new National Care Service.” He also stated that that the Personal Care at Home Bill marks an important step on the road to fundamental long term reform of social care, that it will help people stay in their own homes for longer and that it “promotes a key element of the long term fiscal sustainability of social care, which is to prevent escalating costs from unnecessary institutional provision.”
However, in a letter to The Times council leaders have warned of major weaknesses in government care plans, which they believe will result in cuts to social care services. The 78 signatories, representing all three major parties and every region in England, wrote: “We fully support the principle of providing additional support to those with the most critical care needs. What we cannot support, however, is a piece of legislation that has major weaknesses and which risks adding further strain to an existing system already under considerable financial pressure.”