Frank’s Law benefits wealthier Scots

Disabled people on lowest incomes could see no change to their care bills

Thursday 18th July 2019

Frank’s Law – the policy of extending free personal care to under-65s – is ‘likely’ to benefit wealthier Scots more than those on lower incomes, the Scottish Government has admitted.

Complex charging rules mean disabled people with more income or assets will see the biggest reductions in their weekly care bills.

But people with disabilities on lower incomes – including those who rely solely on their benefits – could see no change at all.

Scottish Greens health spokesperson Alison Johnstone MSP, who has called for universal access to social care that is free at the point of need, warns people in “desperate need” could be missing out.

The revelation was made in a response to Scotland Against the Care Tax, which says the reforms will leave many disabled people disappointed when they continue to be charged for their support.         

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee, which has been considering the issues raised by the campaign group, the Scottish Government says:

‘We agree…that those making larger contributions to their personal care due to their higher incomes or assets are likely to benefit more from free personal care than those on lower incomes. This is similar to the impact we would expect for over 65s.’

Social care support in Scotland is either classed as personal or non-personal. While Frank’s Law makes personal care free for the under-65s, non-personal care – including help with housework or going to the shops – must still be paid for.

Charging rules mean people on lower incomes only have to pay a contribution towards the cost of their care based on what they can afford.

For some less well-off disabled people, the cost of their non-personal hours is still higher than this cut-off point and their care bills will stay the same.

Jeff Adamson, who lives with a disability and chairs Scotland Against the Care Tax, was told by his local council that his £170 weekly care charge would ‘not change’.

The Scottish Government says it is allocating more than £10m to make social care charging policy, which varies across the country’s 32 local authority areas, more consistent. An additional £30m is being provided to help councils with the costs of implementing Frank’s Law.

In the letter to the Holyrood committee it says it will work with Scotland Against the Care Tax as part of a wide-ranging social care reform programme.

Ms Johnstone said: “Social care is essential to people’s health, dignity, individual freedom and control of their lives and that’s why we supported Frank’s Law, but it has to be fit for purpose.

“While I support universal provision, we need to make sure that the people who need it most are accessing the social care they are entitled to, so I’m glad COSLA and the Scottish Government are looking at this.

“But if health and care partnerships, councils and government argue over whose budget is responsible, then the ones losing out are the people in desperate need of care. An ambitious commitment like Frank’s Law needs to be adequately funded.”