Plaid Cymru urged to back free social care for all

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The Plaid Cymru study said providing the services free of charge was “eminently affordable”

A care commission set up by Plaid Cymru has recommended that all social care in Wales should be free at the point of need.

It said providing services free of charge was “eminently affordable but it needs the political will to make it happen”.

Plaid is now likely to turn the idea into party policy ahead of the next assembly elections in 2021.

The commission estimates delivering the policy would cost £247m a year.

It recommends the funding should come from general taxation. The sum equates to less than 1.5% of the Welsh Government’s annual budget.

Last year, economist Prof Gerald Holtham said an increase of between 1% and 3% could be used to fund elderly social care in Wales.

Mark Drakeford’s successful bid to be leader of Welsh Labour promised to take the Prof Holtham proposals forward.

Whereas health care is already provided free of charge via the NHS, social care is delivered by a mixture of public, private and third sector services.

“We reject the current inequity between free health care and the current payments required for many social care services, most notably people with dementia,” the commission said.

“Since 80% of the current cost of social care comes from public funding, our first recommendation is that like health, all social care should be free at the point of need.

“The cost of free social care is eminently affordable but it needs the political will to make it happen.”

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Plaid Cymru’s health spokeswoman welcomed the recommendations

Plaid Cymru set up the commission – made up of party members and health experts – to look for a “radical solution” to the “huge challenge” presented by social care.

An aging population and cuts to local authority budgets have placed considerable strain on social care providers in recent years.

The commission also said steps should be taken to improve the terms and conditions of social care staff and it recommends creating a single National Health and Care Service.

Plaid Cymru’s health and social services spokeswoman Helen Mary Jones said she “fully welcomes” the commission’s recommendations.

“We often hear of the desperate stories of individuals from across Wales who are not receiving the social care that they need such as people with dementia having to sell their homes to pay for care bills ” she said.

“The existing system is inefficient, unsustainable and creates the wrong incentives for providers.

“Plaid Cymru’s vision for Social Care in Wales will be radical, nationally led, and delivered across Wales to tackle the pressures on our social services in Wales.”

The recommendations are likely to be adopted as official Plaid policy at the party’s spring or autumn conference next year.


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