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Food preparation charging to end
No council in Scotland will be able to charge pensioners for help with food preparation thanks to regulations to be laid before the Scottish Parliament.
Following Lord Sutherland's Independent Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care last year, the Scottish Government agreed that the existing legislation on food preparation lacked clarity. Working with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), these regulations will clearly outlaw charging for food preparation.
Separate regulations brought forward by the Scottish Government will increase free personal and nursing care payments in line with inflation.
If passed by Parliament, weekly payments to eligible residents in care homes will increase from April from £149 to £153 per week for personal care, with weekly nursing care payments rising from £67 to £69.
Public Health Minister Shona Robison said:
"Scotland's Free Personal Care policy is rightly respected and admired for providing real support and benefit to some of our more vulnerable older people.
"Last year we increased the free personal and nursing care payments for eligible older people in care homes in line with inflation - the first such increase since the policy was introduced.
"These regulations fulfil the joint commitment set out in our historic Concordat with local government to further increase the payments in line with inflation from this April.
"The universal nature of the Free Personal and Nursing Care policy was always intended to ensure that care is provided on a fair and equitable basis. However, a lack of clarity with the legislation on charging for food preparation led to variations in local practices.
"In the independent review we commissioned from Lord Sutherland, he confirmed that this unfortunate lack of clarity was disadvantaging people in some areas.
"Going forward with CoSLA, the draft order laid before the Scottish Parliament today is designed to ensure that the practice of charging for food preparation for eligible free personal and nursing care clients is ended and puts this matter beyond doubt.
"This, together with the £40 million in additional funding we will be making available to councils in 2009, reinforces our shared commitment with local government to Scotland's Free Personal and Nursing Care policy."
The Scottish Government provides funding to all local authorities in Scotland to meet the costs of the Free Personal and Nursing Care policy. Councils provide support to eligible older people in care homes or in their own homes following confirmation of need through a comprehensive care needs assessment.
Subject to the consent of the Scottish Parliament, both orders will come into force from April 3, 2009.
Around 9,600 residents in care homes currently receive personal care payments, with around 6,200 of these also receiving nursing care payments. Around 42,400 people are benefiting from free personal care at home. The costs of meeting the inflationary increase for these residents will be met by councils from within their existing agree local government settlement allocations for 2009-10.
Lord Stewart Sutherland published the Independent Review's report and recommendations, and reported to Ministers, on April 28, 2008.
In that report Lord Sutherland found that eight councils did charge under the existing legislation - Argyll & Bute, Dundee City, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders and Stirling.