Funding gap widens for personal care

Scotland’s councils face a £79m gap in funding the cost of the country’s free personal care policy this year, a report has revealed.

The Scottish parliament’s health committee said 28 of Scotland’s 32 councils received less from the Scottish executive to provide free personal care than the cost of delivering the policy.

The executive allocated £131m this year but councils say they need £209m to meet all the assessed needs of older people.

The biggest deficit is £9.4m, in North Lanarkshire, followed by Edinburgh (£7.4m), South Lanarkshire (£7.3m), Aberdeen
(£6m), Borders (£3.5m), Midlothian (£3.4m) and Shetland (£3.3m). South Ayrshire Council, which carried out detailed analysis, projected that the cost of delivering free personal care would increase annually by around 20 per cent over the next five
years, raising its care bill from £19.2m this year to £44m by 2011-12.

The funding shortfall is also leading to long waiting lists for assessments or to start receiving services.

For example, people in Shetland assessed as eligible for free personal care must wait an average of 67 days before receiving services. A quarter of councils still failed to collect information on waiting lists.

The data was gathered through a freedom of information request from the health committee, which also criticised the funding and delivery of the policy earlier this year.

Deputy health minister Lewis Macdonald denied there was a funding shortfall but said there would be a review of the policy later this year.

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