HC Deb 07 March 2002 vol 381 c542W
Lynne Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the additional cost of implementing the recommendations of the royal commission on long-term care in full. [37941]

Jacqui Smith

In the NHS Plan we announced new investment in intermediate care and associated services rising to £900 million a year by 2003–04. In addition, we shall be targeting additional resources, rising to £360 million a year by 2003–04, to tackle the anomalies and inequities of the present funding system for long-term care. These include free nursing care in nursing homes for current self-funders which was introduced from October 2001. This will benefit around 42,000 people by around £5,000 p.a. A system of deferred payments has been introduced to avoid people having to sell their homes when they first enter residential care. Since April last year, the value of a property has been disregarded for 12 weeks when undertaking the residential care means test. In addition, the Government have established a new independent national body, the National Care Standards Commission, which will regulate social care services, and private and voluntary healthcare from April 2002.

The Government do not accept the royal commission's recommendation that all personal care should be provided free of charge. It would cost more than £1 billion a year to make all forms of personal care free. Spending money in this way would not help improve the quality and range of services for users of long-term care nor would it help achieve stability for providers, which are our priorities.