Free personal care for older people tops professionals’ election wish-list

A majority of social care professionals want older people in
England to receive free personal care, an exclusive Community Care
pre-election poll has found.

The survey found 59 per cent supported the policy, which is in
place in Scotland and backed by the Liberal Democrats, but has been
ruled out by Labour and for the first three years by the

Professionals are divided on Labour’s performance on older
people since 1997: 54 per cent said it had been at least fairly
good and 46 per cent that it had been poor.

Most worryingly for a government committed to improving services
for the poorest pensioners, 70 per cent said its performance on
quality of life for older people on low incomes had been poor.

With commentators expecting prime minister Tony Blair to call a
5 May election next week, campaigners believe older people could
determine the result.

Help the Aged estimates that one-third of votes will be cast by
people older than 60, while an Age Concern survey found two-thirds
of over-55s were certain to vote, compared with under 40 per cent
of younger people.
Both organisations have called on the major parties to put at the
heart of their campaigns increasing pensioner incomes, fighting
ageism and promoting independence through improved social care.

But the campaign is also likely to concentrate on the impact of
an ageing population on public services which, according to our
survey, should be a big concern for all of the major parties.

It found that more than 92 per cent of professionals believe
social services are not prepared for the growing numbers of older

  • Community Care surveyed 1,096 social care professionals on a
    range of election issues. Further results will be released in the
    weeks ahead.


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