The number of older people in Scotland receiving personal care has increased by almost two thirds since it was made free, according to research out today.
The study, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that while the number of older people receiving social care services at home increased by 10 per cent between 2002-2005 the proportion of the group receiving personal care increased by 62 per cent.
The policy of free personal care in Scotland was introduced in July 2002 and researchers state that the increase in take up since then cannot be put down to demographic trends or higher rates of disability.
There are stark contrasts in how much the policy is costing local authorities and the impact on their budgets. Councils’s average annual spending ranged from £1, 500 to £8, 000 per person and some authorities were managing to stay in budget while others were overspending citing free personal care as a significant cause.
The study raises concerns about the possibility of eligibility criteria for free personal care being tightened as a result, and of the withdrawal some care services not covered by the policy.