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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Free elderly care bill tops 200m
Elderly people in nursing home
Almost 50,000 people have benefited from free personal care
The cost of providing free personal care has risen to more than 200m a year, according to the latest figures.

Statistics released by NHS Scotland showed that the number of people receiving free personal care at home has risen by almost 70% since 2002.

More than 40,000 people were receiving free care at home by September 2005, while 9,000 people received the benefit in a care home setting.

Fifteen councils now have waiting lists for the sought-after service.

The policy, which was introduced in July 2002, provides for payments of 145 a week for the personal care costs of elderly people in care homes, plus 65 for nursing care.

Personal care is also free for the elderly living at home, although they can be charged for domestic services like help with shopping.

'Peace of mind'

The Scottish Executive is providing 147m of funding a year for free personal care, with the rest being paid for by individual councils.

Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald said the policy had removed financial concerns from many elderly people.

He said: "Before its introduction many people had to pay for the type of care they now receive for free.

"It not only helps older people but provides peace of mind to their families and support to their carers.

"Costs have risen, but we have always recognised and budgeted for the rise in the elderly population.

"This policy benefits thousands of older people and we remain committed to delivering free personal and nursing care for those who need it."

Opposition parties have called for more Scottish Executive funding for free personal care, which they say will remove the need for waiting lists.

See more on the mounting costs

Elderly care wait lists revealed
28 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Elderly people's champion urged
16 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Elderly 'charged for free food'
27 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Call to extend free personal care
07 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Free elderly care 'over budget'
15 Feb 05 |  Scotland


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