Sunday 22 September 2019 / 10:31 PM Social Care

Labour will introduce free personal care

Tomorrow (Monday 23 September) Labour’s Shadow Mental Health and Social Care Minister, Barbara Keeley, and Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, will announce major plans to fund care for older people so they can live independently in their own homes. 

Setting out the party’s vision for a National Care Service, Labour Conference will hear that the next Labour government will:

  • Introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals in their own homes and residential care;
  • Address the funding gap in social care;
  • Support local authorities to directly provide, rather than outsource, care;
  • Support the care workforce better, to ensure that older people receive support from trained staff who have the time and skills needed to provide care.

Currently, only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care. People with dementia face the highest costs for care.

Labour’s plans to introduce free personal care, at a cost estimated by the Kings Fund at around £6bn in 2020/21, will more than double the number of people receiving state-funded care and reduce the number of people facing catastrophic costs for their care. Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions, reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.

As part of the National Care Service, Labour has pledged to raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts, ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time; end 15-minute care visits; and improve access to training and development for care staff.

Announcing Labour’s policy in a speech at Labour Party Conference 2019, John 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

Nearly £8bn taken from council budgets for social care since 2010

The result is one million people not getting the care they need

87 people dying a day waiting for care

More than five million unpaid carers looking after loved ones

And overworked, underpaid care workers only being allowed ten minute visits to those they care for

Because the current system won’t pay for more

A report out last week demonstrated how, at the same time, many big care providers have developed highly complex corporate structures involving offshore tax havens

Sucking even more money out of the system

So I can announce today that, after years of campaigning by trade unions and carers

And I want to thank the hard work and leadership that Barbara Keeley has shown in driving forward our policy on this issue

As the first building block in our new National Care Service

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.

And we’re publishing the first steps of our National Care Service vision today in this pamphlet

Investing in the workforce

And we’ll require all providers – public, private or charitable – to adhere to strict criteria on ethical standards

Putting right a historical omission

Because nothing is more important than dignity in retirement for those who have built our country and given younger generations the world we live in today.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care and Mental Health Minister, said:

“Nine years of cuts to local council budgets have pushed care services to the brink. For years, the Tories have failed to bring in much-needed reform, leaving too many people and their families struggling to afford the care they need.

“Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.

“It is vital that social care is a universally-available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care. Our National Care Service will have these principles at its core.”


Notes to Editors

Labour’s plan Towards the National Care Service, sets out further detail and is available here:–-Labour’s-Vision-v5-ELECTRONIC.pdf

Introduce free personal care for older people

  • Personal care is the support a person may need for everyday activities. These activities may include getting in and out of bed, using the toilet, having a bath or shower, getting dressed or eating a meal. Personal care can be provided to people in their homes, or in residential care. Free personal care is already available to adults in Scotland who need these services.
  • Providing free personal care will:
    • Help more people receive publicly-funded care in their own home.
    • Reduce the number of people facing catastrophic costs of over £100,000 for their care by 70,000.
    • More than double the number of people receiving state-funded social care.
    • Ensure that the distinction between health and care needs, which unfairly impacts people with dementia, is removed.

IPPR (2019), Social Care: Free at the point of need

  • Based on the average cost of home care per hour being £16 an hour  and the average recipient of free personal care in Scotland receiving 11.7 hours a week of care, the average approximate saving could be £9,734 a year for someone self-funding their care.

NHS Digital

Health Foundation (2018)

  • Free personal care has been supported by
  • Labour will legislate to introduce free personal care for older people both in their own homes and in residential care.
  • Free personal care will remove the distinction between health and care needs that has been particularly devastating for people with dementia and their families, ensuring more people receive publicly-funded care.
  • We will consult on eligibility criteria to ensure this system works for all, including people with complex conditions such as dementia.
  • To enable us to introduce free personal care for working age-adults, we will collect data on the level of unmet need for care among this group. This will enable us to reduce this unmet need and work towards our ambition to extend free personal care to all working age adults.

Fund social care properly

  • Labour’s fully-costed 2017 manifesto committed an additional £8 billion of social care funding over five years, covered by tax increases that protected 95% of earners: page 71
  • Labour will lay out our total additional social care spending pledges ahead of the General Election in our new fully-costed manifesto. Funding for Labour’s National Care Service will be through general taxation rather than any form of levy.

Raise standards of care

  • Labour will ensure that existing care services commissioned by local authorities meets our ethical standards of care, putting public interest and a public service ethos at the heart of decision making.
  • These standards will include certain workforce terms and conditions as a minimum requirement such as effective training, development and supervision for their staff.

Support local authorities to provide, rather than outsource, care

  • Labour will enable councils to focus on delivering public services, rather than negotiating contracts, by increasing local authorities’ capacity to deliver care and moving towards a publicly-delivered National Care Service.

Support the care workforce

  • Labour will ensure care staff are treated with the professional respect they deserve, with the pay, working conditions and access to professional development that any working professional would expect.

Labour’s National Care Service

  • Labour’s 2017 manifesto set out our plan to deliver a National Care Service.
  • Since then, Labour has also committed to move people with autism and learning disabilities back into the community from inappropriate inpatient hospitals.
  • We have also committed to deliver 160,000 additional care packages to ensure more people receive the care they need.

Labour will improve support for unpaid carers through an increase in carers allowance in line with the Job Seekers’ Allowance and will publish a proper National Carers Strategy.