Prime minister Gordon Brown today defended government legislation to introduce free personal care at home for people with high needs but failed to satisfy critics over the costs of the reforms.
In a key speech on health and social care to the King’s Fund, Brown reiterated the government’s position that its Personal Care at Home Bill, which would also introduce access to free short-term reablement services entering the care system, was a building block for its plans for a national care service, outlined in last year’s green paper.
He said: “[The bill] helps people stay in their own homes for longer and out of unnecessary residential care or hospital stays, an objective which must be at the heart of the national care service.”
He added that it would help promote “the long-term fiscal sustainability of social care, which is to prevent escalating costs from unnecessary institutional provision.”
Responding to the speech, Jenny Owen, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “I’m encouraged the prime minister has recognised that the reform agenda is a key priority but on personal care we are still concerned it’s underfunded.”
The government has placed the overall cost of the bill at £670m a year, but a recent Adass survey put the possible cost at over £1bn a year.
Listen to Gordon Brown’s speech in full