Labour Cuts Commission given stark warning on care

Labour’s Cuts Commission has been given a stark warning that any attempts to introduce means testing for free personal care for the elderly would have the “opposite effect” to Labour’s claims that it would target the most vulnerable.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland today, Age Scotland’s Lindsay Scott said that “means-testing has been proven time and time again not to do what it’s supposed to do,” noting that respected institutions such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Pensions Policy Institute, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, have all called it "unacceptably complicated, and stigmatizing, and expensive.”

In direct opposition to Johann Lamont’s position, Mr Scott also said “the fact that there are really rich people getting payments cannot be used as a reason to get rid of a straightforward scheme that works well for the majority.”

The comments come after a week of chaos and confusion from the Labour Party in Scotland on the issue. After Johann Lamont launched her cuts commission on Tuesday, her spin doctors immediately tried to claim that free personal care would not be under threat.

However, yesterday the man set to lead the commission – Professor Arthur Midwinter – confirmed that “nothing was off the table,” causing alarm to the thousands of pensioners who have benefitted immensely from the policy.

Commenting, SNP MSP Aileen McLeod – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee – said:

“Lindsay Scott’s intervention today highlighted the real dangers threatened by Labour’s cuts commission to free personal care and older people in Scotland.

“He is absolutely right to point out the issues surrounding stigmatization and bureaucracy, which mean it actually leaves the most vulnerable in a worse position.

“We’ve already seen another Labour front-bencher admit this week that she thought there wouldn’t be any benefit to means-testing free prescriptions – that’s why the Scottish Government abolished them for everyone, and exactly the same logic applies to free personal care.

“The more we learn about Labour’s cuts commission, the more worrying it becomes. Instead of looking for ways to protect Scotland’s key social policies, Johann Lamont is simply looking for ways to implement Tory cuts and follow a right-wing Westminster agenda.

“How sad that a party which once proudly boasted of introducing free personal care for the elderly is now looking to dismantle it – no wonder Ruth Davidson has welcomed them to the Tory camp.”