The Scottish government today (Friday) insisted it remained committed to free personal care for its elderly population but has indicated it is in talks to reshape health and social services.
Its pledge came after Harriet Dempster, the president of the Association of Directors of Social Workers, was reported as saying that spending cuts meant the policy might have to become means-tested.
Dempster suggested to BBC Radio Scotland that it was important the most vulnerable were supported but recognised that some could afford to pay for the service.
She made her comments in the wake of the release of official figures earlier in the week, which showed that the cost of providing Scotland’s flagship social care policy rose by more than 11% last year to £358m.
However, public health minister Shona Robison said: “We are absolutely committed to maintaining that progress and laying the foundations for Scotland’s older people to receive the support they need, not only now but in the years to come.
“We are working with councils and health boards to agree what needs to be done to shape the future of health and social care over the next 20 years.”
She said the policy was improving the lives of more than 50,000 vulnerable older people in Scotland and that increasing numbers of these were being cared for in their own homes.
The Scottish government has also said that revenue funding to local government will increase by £308m, or 2.9%, on 2009 to 2010 levels.