Younger disabled adults would benefit from the government’s £670m pledge to introduce free personal care at home for people with critical care needs in England, the Department of Health has confirmed.
When prime minister Gordon Brown made the announcement at the Labour Party conference, he only referred to it benefiting older people, rather than younger disabled adults.
Disabled adults will no longer be charged
But the DH confirmed today that those disabled people who had critical needs and were currently charged for care would receive free care at home from October 2010, should Labour win the next election.
However, the DH said that the figure it had put out for the number of expected beneficiaries – 350,000 – referred to older people who were currently either charged for care by councils or paid for their care privately in full.
Though high rates of poverty among disabled adults aged 18-64, has meant many are not charged for home care, charities including Leonard Cheshire Disability have raised significant concerns about the impact of fees on those who are eligible.
Green paper claims rejected
The DH also rejected claims, including from think-tank the King’s Fund, that it was pre-empting the results of the consultation on the adult social care green paper, which was launched in July and is due to conclude on 13 November.
A DH spokesperson said: “The green paper is seeking people’s views on how we resolve those challenges and create a sustainable system for the long term. But, we cannot stand still in meeting the challenge of rising costs now and the prime minister’s announcement will help support those most in need.”
Tories raise funding gap question
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have questioned whether there is a funding gap in the government’s figures, pointing out that the £670m would provide £37 a week on average for the 350,000 expected beneficiaries.
But they have given no indication over whether they would support the policy.