Labour has promised to provide free personal care for people over 65 in England, including help with dressing, washing and meals.
In a speech today at the Labour conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say the move, which would bring England in line with Scotland, would double the number of those accessing free social care.
Mr McDonnell will say: “I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life. The truth is our social care sector is a national scandal.
“The next Labour government will introduce personal care free at the point of use in England, funded not through the Conservatives’ gimmicky insurance schemes but, like the NHS and our other essentials, through general taxation.”
Labour will also pledge to close the gap in social care funding, with it already having committed to spend an extra £8bn for five years on services.
News of Labour’s spending promises, received a mixed reaction. The King’s Fund thinktank labelled the move a welcome step while pointing out that it was “not the same thing as free social care”, and would leave some people still facing “catastrophic costs”.
Steven Cameron, Aegon’s Pensions Director, said: “While Labour is proposing free personal care which should allow more people to remain in their own homes, individuals will still need to fund ‘room and board’ themselves if they need residential care. This needs to be set out clearly so individuals understand far ahead of actually needing care what they’ll be expected to pay in various circumstances so they can plan ahead and set aside enough money.”
The IPPR thinktank, which originally proposed the policy, said it was “delighted” with Labour’s move and the GMB Union described it as a “bold plan”.