Headlines: February 17th, 2006

Older and disabled people in Wales and their carers are to benefit from a 76 million pound package announced by the Welsh Assembly Government as it moves towards its commitment to provide free home care for disabled people.The money is on top of a 45 million pound increase for adult social services in the coming financial year and will include measures to improve services and reduce the impact of charging for them. Health and Social Services Minister Dr Brian Gibbons said the support would include significant investment in helping people stay in their own homes.

The package includes an increase in the margin above income support before people pay charges for personal care at home, which will mean that on average people below 60 with a disposable income below 110 pounds and people over 60 with an income of 143 pounds should not have to pay for personal care at home provided by their local authority. There will also be 3 million pounds of extra support for those caring for people who have mental illness.

More than 12 million in capital funding over 2 years will go to improve community equipment services and a further nine million of capital funding to support around 10,000 people with telecare technology, again designed to will help vulnerable people to be safe at home.

The announcement is a result of work on the Assembly Government’s commitment to introduce free home care for disabled people and is based on an independent costing of the policy by Professor David Bell from Stirling University.

Dr Gibbons said Professor Bell’s report had highlighted a number of issues and it was clear that at the current time the Assembly Government could not put in place its original plans equitably and affordably. “I will continue to keep the home care charging arrangements under review and will make further changes when there is an opportunity to do so. We will continue to work with our partners in the voluntary sector and local government”.