‘Can’t pay’ coun­cil in OAP care bomb­shell

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

OAPs face be­ing de­nied vi­tal help with in­de­pen­dent liv­ing af­ter a cash-strapped coun­cil ruled that it no longer has to fund free care.

Since Free Per­sonal Care was in­tro­duced in 2002, el­derly Scots have had help with wash­ing and feeding.

But now the pol­icy is fac­ing an un­prece­dented threat af­ter North Ayr­shire Coun­cil lawyers said the author­ity need only pay for free per­sonal care if it has suf­fi­cient funds.

Last night crit­ics warned that an ap­par­ent re­fusal to fund care could be dis­as­trous for pensioners.

Cam­paign group Age Scot­land also warned that thou­sands of el­derly Scots – al­though not cur­rently be­ing de­nied free per­sonal care – are be­ing forced to wait. Over­all, it said, around 4000 Scots cur­rently have to fund their own care, with no idea of when they may get promised state sup­port.

Some­one re­ceiv­ing per­sonal care – for things like help in get­ting dressed and washed – should get £171 a week to pay for ser­vices. Those in care homes who also re­quire nurs­ing care can ap­ply for £78 a week.

This is es­ti­mated to cost lo­cal au­thor­i­ties £500 mil­lion a year.

The threat to free care emerged in cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Age Scot­land and North Ayr­shire Coun­cil. In one email, a coun­cil of­fi­cial ex­plains: ‘Based on the ad­vice of the le­gal ser­vices team, it has been con­firmed that the free per­sonal care el­e­ment of fund­ing can also only be pro­vided within avail­able fi­nan­cial means.’

A coun­cil spokesman added: ‘Cur­rent fi­nan­cial pres­sures have meant that re­cently the part­ner­ship has not been able to fund peo­ple as soon as their as­sess­ment has been com­pleted and we have there­fore had to op­er­ate a wait­ing list, cur­rently at 79 peo­ple, for per­ma­nent nurs­ing and res­i­den­tial care place­ments.

‘We im­me­di­ately place some­one into care when a va­cancy arises.’

Age Scot­land said it has been inun­dated with re­ports that sup­port is be­ing de­nied. Direc­tor Keith Rob­son said: ‘Our re­search sug­gests many lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are re­sort­ing to de­lay­ing tac­tics to avoid pay­ing.’

Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives MSP Jamie Green said: ‘Every per­son over the age of 65 is en­ti­tled to free per­sonal care. Now at least one coun­cil says this may not be the case. The SNP has to re­veal if there are any more.’

The Scot­tish Mail on Sun­day asked sev­eral coun­cils if they were able to meet per­sonal care com­mit­ments.

Ed­in­burgh has 631 peo­ple wait­ing for sup­port, at an es­ti­mated cost of £4 mil­lion, from a so­cial care de­part­ment al­ready over­spent by £9.35 mil­lion.

The coun­cil said that ‘ser­vices will be pro­vided in ac­cor­dance with as­sessed need, but this must take ac­count of avail­able re­sources’.

Glas­gow said it met all free per­sonal care re­quests, but ad­mit­ted peo­ple some­times had to wait.

North La­nark­shire does not have a wait­ing list while Fife was un­able to say if it op­er­ated a wait­ing list.

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son said: ‘The NHS is in­vest­ing al­most half a bil­lion pounds into so­cial care and in­te­gra­tion, giv­ing more peo­ple the right care in the right set­ting.’

‘Many are re­sort­ing to de­lay­ing tac­tics’

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