Exclusive: Huge step for care cam­paign as MSP brings law to Holy­rood and lo­cal coun­cils are asked to in­ves­ti­gate costs.

EXCLUSIVE: SNP re­quest to coun­cils fu­els spec­u­la­tion over sup­port for cam­paign

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Kieran an­drews Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor kian­drews@the­courier.co.uk

Scot­tish min­is­ters have asked coun­cils to start cost­ing Frank’s Law, The Courier can re­veal.

The rev­e­la­tion fu­elled spec­u­la­tion that S NP politi­cians were fi­nally pre­par­ing to back Amanda Kopel’s bid to end dis­crim­i­na­tion against un­der-65s with de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­eases like de­men­tia who need per­sonal care but are cur­rently charged for re­ceiv­ing it.

It came as Miles Briggs, the Con­ser­va­tive shadow health sec­re­tary, lodged a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill at Holy­rood to make the cam­paign a re­al­ity. A ma­jor­ity of MSPs back the changes de­spite the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment not yet for­mally be­ing in favour of clos­ing the loop­holes.

He said: “It is good to see that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ap­pear to be fi­nally tak­ing this is­sue se­ri­ously and ask­ing lo­cal au­thor­i­ties for their es­ti­mates of the costs of Frank’s Law.

“At present Fife Coun­cil is pro­vid­ing free per­sonal care for those who need it un­der 65 so a prece­dent clearly ex­ists for Frank’s Law to be put in place and de­liv­ered for those who need it.

“I hope that the Gov­ern­ment’s fea­si­bil­ity study along­side my own mem­ber’s bill con­sul­ta­tion can help de­liver Frank’s Law. All politi­cians need to work to­gether to de­liver it with­out fur­ther de­lay.”

Dundee United leg­end Frank Kopel and his wife Amanda paid around £300 a week for him to have per­sonal care in his Kir­riemuir home af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia aged 59.

The for­mer left-back was el­i­gi­ble for just 19 days of free per­sonal care be­fore his death in April 2014, de­spite liv­ing with the ill­ness for nearly six years.

A Dundee City Coun­cil source said the au­thor­ity had been asked by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to cost ex­tend­ing free per­sonal care to the un­der-65s with re­spect to de­men­tia.

They added: “This has come in a sur­vey form, which is gen­er­ally the be­gin­ning of an ex­er­cise which could bring in leg­is­la­tion.”

A coun­cil spokesman con­firmed the re­quest, which is un­der­stood to have been made to au­thor­i­ties across the coun­try and has a re­sponse dead­line of the end of July, was re­ceived on Mon­day.

Amanda was in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day as nearly 20 politi­cians lined up to show their sup­port for the bill as it was for­mally lodged with of­fi­cials.

One of those present was for­mer health sec­re­tary Alex Neil, who re­vealed he was plan­ning to bring Frank’s Law into force be­fore he was sacked by Nicola Stur­geon.

He said: “The bill helps to put ad­di­tional pres­sure on and gar­ner sup­port within the par­lia­ment for the whole prin­ci­ple that peo­ple shouldn’t be pe­nalised be­cause they have taken de­men­tia be­fore they reach the age of 65 and qual­ify for free per­sonal care.”

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son said: “We are al­ready com­mit­ted to ex­am­in­ing the ex­ten­sion of free per­sonal and nurs­ing care to those un­der 65, while pro­tect­ing ex­ist­ing pro­vi­sion.

“We are cur­rently run­ning a fea­si­bil­ity study to con­sider the costs, ben­e­fits, chal­lenges and con­se­quences of ex­tend­ing free per­sonal care, in­clud­ing anal­y­sis of the ad­di­tional demand for care likely to be cre­ated and the re­la­tion­ship with so­cial se­cu­rity pro­vi­sion. This will be com­pleted over the sum­mer.”

Anas Sar­war, Labour’s health spokesman who was present as the bill was lodged, said un­der-65s “de­serve the same free per­sonal care that those over that age ... re­ceive.”

Ali­son John­stone, of the Greens, said the party would seek to en­sure free so­cial care was avail­able re­gard­less of a per­son’s age or med­i­cal con­di­tion.

Lib­eral Demo­crat health spokesper­son Alex Cole-Hamil­ton con­firmed Frank’s Law con­tin­ues to have the full sup­port of his party.

This has come in a sur­vey form, which is gen­er­ally the be­gin­ning of an ex­er­cise which could bring in leg­is­la­tion. DUNDEE CITY COUN­CIL SOURCE

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