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4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it complies with its social justice policy objectives for self-funding older people in residential care to pay more than local authorities for the same care. (S4O-05699)
Free personal care is available for everyone aged 65 and over in Scotland who has been assessed by the local authority as needing it. Free nursing care is available for people of any age who have been assessed as requiring nursing care services.
We are committed to ensuring that people on the lowest incomes or with the lowest asset wealth continue to receive financial support from their local authorities for their residential care. Two thirds of people in residential care—around 24,000 people—are supported in that way in Scotland. The Scottish Government and the Royal Commission on Long Term Care for the Elderly have been clear that people who can afford to pay for their care should continue to do so while we support people who cannot afford to pay for theirs.
How can it be socially just when councils pay about £470 a week for a placement in a care home but a self-funding placement costs well over £1,000? As this is my final question, I will just say that I have been asking this question since 1999. The Labour Party’s response used to refer to a 1951 act of Parliament that forbade it from applying charges equally. With the huge raft of powers that are being devolved to this Parliament, will the Government commit to reviewing the situation to bring about fairness and social justice for all elderly people?
Having heard the supplementary, I am absolutely sure that Mary Scanlon was not randomly picked to ask that question because she has campaigned vigorously on the issue ever since 1999.
I draw Mary Scanlon’s attention to the joint review of residential care services by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which was published about 18 months ago. The issue was among a number of issues that we intend to try to address.
Finally, since this is Mary Scanlon’s last question, I pay tribute to her tremendous service to the Parliament, to the country and particularly to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. She will be sorely missed from this Parliament. [Applause.]