Nicola Sturgeon pledged yesterday that social care charges would be abolished if her party is re-elected in the next Scottish assembly elections in 2021.
Scotland has more far reaching social care provisions than other parts of the United Kingdom after a policy known as Franks law was extended to cover adults under 65.
This follows a campaign by a well-known Dundee United footballer Frank Kopel who had a successful 18-year career at Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Dundee United and Abroath.
In all the United Kingdom people are living longer but the ageing population means they have more complex needs. Support services are provided in Scotland by regional councils and although personal care is free councils can charge for some services.
Could Wales and Northern Ireland follow suit, Northern Ireland through support from the conservative party in response to support in a minority government and Wales following in Scotland’s forward-thinking social care policy? Wales may not be in a viable financial position to offer free care at the present time without further funding from Whitehall or a change in government.
With the current political turmoil and all political parties starting campaigning for the inevitable general election which could be as early as this year, will one or all the parties look to use social care as a key election issue?
We all know the severe pressures on social care, Age UK estimates that 1.4 million people over the age of 65 have unmet needs of assistance with washing, getting up and daily care activities. Will parties on both sides extend free social care provisions to Wales and Northern Ireland as part of their campaigns to Downing Street?
Even if free care is not extended to other parts of the UK, perhaps Scotland extending its services to make all of them free will spur discussion and debate throughout the UK.