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Press release

The King's Fund responds to the Liberal Democrats' pledge to reform social care by introducing free personal care

Commenting on a pledge from the Liberal Democrats to reform social care by introducing free personal care, Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:  

‘It is heartening to see a political party pledge to begin to address the crisis in social care. This is an important issue for voters – the latest British Social Attitudes survey shows that public satisfaction with social care services has dropped to just 13%, the lowest level ever recorded. We hope other major political parties stop avoiding the topic and explain how they will deliver much-needed reform of a social care system that is not fit for purpose. 

‘Funding free personal care would be a significant step forward from the current social care offer in England. Providing increased levels of support to many more people would also help reduce the burden of millions of unpaid carers who often have to support their loved ones without the professional help they need (in England, unpaid carers deliver care equivalent to that delivered by 4 million paid care workers). Free personal care already exists in Scotland so there is experience to learn from.   

‘But the devil will be in the detail of how far the commitment will go. Social care services don’t only support older people; about half of the social care budget in England goes on supporting working-age adults living with disabilities and it’s not clear whether they are covered by this proposal. And we caution that while this is a good first step, free personal care is not a panacea and will not cover everything that is needed to put social care back on a sustainable footing so it can support people to live good-quality lives in their communities. Much of what the social care sector provides goes beyond personal care.  

‘There must be further bold action to tackle workforce gaps, to support providers to be financially sustainable and to improve quality of services. If fully funded, the Liberal Democrats’ plans to introduce a Carer’s Minimum Wage will reduce workforce pressures which is welcome, however, the true cost of reform will be much more than stated.’ 

Notes to editors

  1. The King’s Fund has today published a new blog by Simon Bottery, Senior Fellow, on how the two main political parties will avoid talking about social care at this general election.

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585. 

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all. 

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