Free personal care pledge may be axed

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The promise of free personal care may be dropped from Liberal
Democrat manifestos because of the pressure on services.

Sandra Gidley, the party’s older people’s spokesperson, told a
Social Care Institute of Excellence fringe meeting on Monday that
she would “love to keep” the policy but it may not be
sustainable.

She said: “It may be heretical for me to say this but we have to
think about how sustainable a policy it is.

“The pressure on social care budgets is a real one. There isn’t a
bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money. At some point there will have
to be a sensible debate about how much we are willing to pay
for.”

Gidley also said the party had not paid enough attention to public
health and questioned the case for increasing the number of direct
payments. She said councils had used them to deal with “difficult”
service users and they could become a method of “rationing services
by the back door”.

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