Disabled people ‘lose out’ on Frank’s Law cash

Campaigners warn disabled people’s care bills can still go up despite policy

Tuesday 27th August 2019

Campaigners are claiming disabled people are losing out on government funding for Frank’s Law – the extension of free personal care to under-65s who require support due to disability or health conditions.

The policy is named after former Dundee United footballer Frank Kopel, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia but had to pay for care because he was under 65.

A Scottish Government financial forecast published by Scotland Against the Care Tax (SACT) shows less than 10% of the £30m set aside for the policy will go to reducing disabled people’s care bills.

And the group, which campaigns for all charges for care and support to be abolished, is warning the £27m balance could be used by local authorities to pay for services in other areas because the cash is not ring-fenced.

It has been reported South Ayrshire health and social care partnership used £315,000 that had been allocated for Frank’s Law to balance the books.

SACT goes on to say the one-size-fits-all approach taken by ministers could leave disabled people facing higher bills.

This is because they still have to pay for care that is not classed as ‘personal.

Though definitions vary, non-personal care includes help with activities like going to the shops and household tasks such as cleaning and cooking.

Jeff Adamson, who chairs the campaign group, said: “I am one of the many disabled people in Scotland who rely on large amounts of personal care and social care support to live a good life, but my charges have gone up since Frank’s Law was brought in, not down.”

He continued: “Although 80% of my care package has been adjudged as being personal care (the other 20% being social care) and I don't pay for this, I'm still paying for my social care which costs more than I've been assessed to pay.

“We said there was a fairer way of doing this but they wouldn’t listen. Now we see why. No wonder the Scottish Government was reluctant to release this paper to the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee.”

Ian Hood, spokesperson for Scotland Against the Care Tax, added: “At first the Scottish Government said that over 10,000 people would benefit but because of the way they have gone about this, only about 3,000 people will benefit.  And many of them will still have to pay large weekly amounts because some of their support won’t be counted as personal care.” 

He continued: “The remainder of the money is not ring-fenced and is being given to councils to spend as they want. They justified this additional funding as being needed to meet an anticipated rush in demand for support.

“Yet, five months after the introduction of Frank’s Law, it is clear that there has been no such increase. Nor will there be. Councils have robust procedures in place to make sure that only those with needs classed as ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’ get support.”

However local government representative group COSLA refutes the claims.

A spokesman for COSLA said: “COSLA and the Scottish Government made a significant commitment to ensuring Free Personal Care was extended to under-65s from April this year. The policy was fully funded by Scottish Government to the tune of £30m in the first year and we continue to monitor the cost as we anticipate take up of this funding will increase over time.

“Just four months on from the full rollout of the policy it is deeply unhelpful to say that all of this money will not go to supporting disabled people. Everyone who is now entitled to Free Personal Care will be receiving that and there is no evidence that funds are being held back. 

“This commitment was made in response to a successful campaign to raise awareness of the need to extend Free Personal Care and, in an undeniably difficult financial context, councils continue to invest as much as they can in social care.”