It is a better social care system

We are calling for free personal care because we believe it is the best and most effective way of ensuring all older people are given the help they both need and deserve. 

As part of our work on social care we have identified seven tests for the forthcoming adult social care green paper. The policy of free personal care, we feel, goes some way to meeting these tests and delivers a fairer and universally accessible system.  

Introducing free personal care will result in significant benefits for all older people, enabling them to live in their own homes for longer and supporting them to live independent lives for as long as possible. Free personal care would also reduce delayed transfers of care (DTOC), and promote the integration of health and social care – two key government priorities. In Scotland, where personal care has been free for those aged over 65 since 2002, there has been a significant decrease in the number of DTOCs, and the increased spending on social care has resulted in lower spending overall on health and care for older people.

The entitlement to free personal care would also send a clear message about how we, as a country, value the dignity and independence of older people in later life.

Person receiving care

People want it

In addition to all of the reasons above, we know that free personal care is something that people want. In fact, the appetite for free personal care transcends politics, wealth, geography and age. 

We know this because as part of this research we conducted some polling with over 2,000 adults in England to learn about their views on free personal care and their willingness to pay more in tax to make it happen. We learnt that over three quarters (78%) of adults in England want free personal care for those aged 65+ who need it, and almost three quarters (74%) would be willing to contribute more to fund it.* 

We also conducted focus groups with older people around England and heard first hand of people's despair at the current social care system and the strong desire for change.

Image of polling

Stakeholders want it

We are not the first organisation to see the benefits of free personal care: 

"If we believe the most pressing problems are an inadequate public offer and an overly complex system with high administration costs and barriers to integration with health, then free personal care – or some variant of it – may be an idea whose time has finally arrived."

Simon Bottery, The King's Fund

"We support the provision of social care free at the point of delivery as a long-term aspiration. In principle, we believe that the personal care element of social care should be delivered free to everyone who has the need for it, but that accommodation costs should continue to be paid on a means-tested basis. This should begin by extending free personal care to those deemed to have ‘critical’ needs. However, particularly for younger adults, it is essential that social care is viewed more holistically and funding for ‘preventative’ social care for adults with moderate social care needs is reinstated."

House of Commons Health and Social Care and Housing, Communities and Local Government Committees

"Free personal and nursing care for everyone who needs it, regardless of your ability to pay – just like the NHS. Growing old shouldn’t mean getting poor."

Part of the 10-point offer to citizens by The Lord Darzi Review of Health and Care


Read the documents


*Source: Social care funding/ YouGov poll: 10th - 12th September 2019. Total sample size was 2,840 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England adults (aged 18+).