Councils have called for changes to Scotland’s flagship free personal care policy to counter financial pressures and inequity.
Robert Peat, Angus Council’s director of social work, told the Scottish parliament’s health committee that free personal care should be available to people of all ages, not just older people, but be means-tested.
This would allow councils to direct their “limited resources” at a “wider range of people with needs”.
Glennis Middleton, Angus’s social work convenor, said it “smacked of inequity” that free care was denied to people under 65 who might need more care than some older people.
“Difficult choices” would have to be made in the future as more people required care, she added.
Alan Baird, Dundee Council’s director of social work, told the committee that demand for free personal care in the city was outstripping resources, meaning 35 people were waiting for their free personal care allowance to be paid.
Middleton also raised concerns over the impact of direct payments. Wider take-up could lead to councils receiving less funding and a “corresponding reduction” in their capacity to provide services for everyone in their area, she claimed.
Meanwhile, a new report has found huge variations in the costs of care home places across Scotland’s councils.
The average weekly charge for homes run by Edinburgh Council was £735, compared with only £276 for those in South Lanarkshire.
Council-run homes were on average more expensive than those in the private sector.