Free care for Scots elderly could be axed

Free personal care for the elderly is fast becoming unaffordable and charges may have to be introduced, local government leaders in Scotland have warned.

The Scottish Government has pledged to retain free personal and nursing care for the over-65s, but has problems funding it.

Douglas Yates for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities warns that change was inevitable and that elderly people could be means tested for personal care. "The current system is not sustainable into the future. It is simple demographics, the numbers that will be coming into the system and the cost to the taxpayer. The reality is that, with the age of baby-boomers who are coming up to pensionable age, we need to be looking at a different system and perhaps charging."

Elderly care has been largely free in Scotland for almost a decade. Free personal and nursing care was introduced in 2002, but its costs have almost doubled in that time to about £370m a year. Councils, which implement the policy, say they are chronically underfunded, and the situation has been magnified as spending cuts start to bite.

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