The Welsh assembly has voted unanimously in
favour of the principle of free personal care for older people.
There was all-party support for the move
which, if implemented, would cost Wales an estimated £67m a
year. But the assembly does not have the power to put the measure
And the likelihood of government funding the
proposal is remote. One source at the Wales Office in Westminster
commented: “We do not think this is a spending priority and this
decision by the assembly will have no impact on government
The official line from a spokesperson was that
the decision had been taken by the assembly, and Welsh secretary
Paul Murphy had nothing to say on the matter.
In December 2001 free nursing care was
introduced for older people in Wales but assembly members
acknowledge that the new proposals are beyond the present powers of
the administration in Wales which has no tax raising powers.
Health and social services minister Jane Hutt
will now write to the Welsh secretary asking for support to
persuade the government to fund the policy.