Cost of free personal care higher than claimed, say councils

Experts have warned that the government’s Personal Care at Home Bill will make care assessments more complicated and stretch council budgets.

The proposal to provide free personal care at home for around 280,000 people may be put in jeopardy by the number of people presently funding their own care coming forward to claim the new benefit.

President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Jenny Owen criticised government estimates of the cost of self-funders coming into the system. “It’s on the very extreme low end of the likely financial consequences,” she said.

The Local Government Association’s strategic lead for adult social care, Andrew Cozens, called the government’s costs, published alongside the Bill yesterday, a “stab in the dark”.

Cozens said: “It’s very difficult to plan when we don’t know.”

The government estimates around 66,000 people presently self-funding their care will wish to receive free personal care.

Cozens estimated that the cost of providing the free care would be around £2.5m for each council. He said he was worried about the “open ended nature” of the duty placed on councils to fund this. He also said leaving the costs to efficiency savings went against the spirit of the adult social care green paper which aimed to put more money into the system.


Owen also said the government was creating a system which would lead to rises in administrative costs for councils as the assessment system was too complicated. She said: “We are trying to make assessment process as lean as possible and this is not allowing for a lean assessment process.”

She said there was a lack of clarity over what constituted the need to assistance with certain daily living tasks such as eating, arguing that whether this referred to preparation of food, feeding or cooking was open to interpretation.

Reablement hurdle

Sector leaders welcomed the ability to ensure people had undergone reablement services before being eligible for free personal care. United Kingdom Home Care Association’s head of policy Colin Angel said: “We believe that the use of reablement services are a very positive and logical one to promote the independence of people who use services and a prudent use of finite resources.”

Owen said this was in line with present policy to encourage councils to develop re-ablement services under the Putting People First agenda.

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