Ed Davey launches plan for free personal care to end hospital crisis and help people stay in their own homes

8 Jun 2024

EMBARGO: 22.30 Monday 3rd June

  • Liberal Democrats announce groundbreaking plans to offer free personal care to all those who need it

  • Ed Davey will put care at the heart of the Liberal Democrats’ plan for the country, becoming the first ever party to have a dedicated chapter in manifesto on care

  • Latest figures show over 12,700 hospital beds taken up by patients ready to be discharged with some waiting months

  • The party’s flagship social care announcement will be funded by reversing tax cuts given to big banks by the Conservatives

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey will today launch a bold plan to fix the social care crisis, including providing free personal care to help elderly people stay in their own homes for longer.

The groundbreaking policy would revolutionise the care system in England and alleviate pressure on the NHS, by providing free personal care for everyone who needs it. The plan would help more people to receive the care they need in their own homes and prevent people having to sell their house to pay for personal care.

Personal care covers nursing care, help with mobility, hygiene and medication, whether people are in their own home or a care home. Those needing residential care would still have to contribute towards their accommodation.

Ed Davey, who has been a carer himself throughout his life, said that too often family carers were being left to “pick up the pieces” because the care system wasn’t there for them. He added that fixing the care crisis is fundamental to tackling the crisis facing the NHS.

An estimated 1.6 million elderly people in England have unmet care needs, with many stranded in hospital beds due to the lack of space in care homes or resources to provide follow-up care in their own homes. The latest figures show an average of 12,772 hospital beds in England per day this April were occupied by people ready to be discharged. An average of 1,994 patients a day in April were waiting to begin care at home, while 1,904 patients a day were waiting for a bed in a care home.

In one-heart-breaking case, a woman with autism in Sussex saw her health significantly deteriorate after spending nine months in hospital waiting for a place in a care home. 

The Liberal Democrats’ plans would cost £2.7 billion a year by 2028-29, fully funded by reversing tax cuts handed by the Conservative party to the big banks since 2016. The party’s plan would also save the NHS up to £3 billion through reduced pressure on hospitals and other NHS services. 

The Liberal Democrats will have a dedicated chapter on care in their manifesto, becoming the first political party to do so. The plan will also include introducing a Carer's Minimum Wage set £2 above the minimum wage to tackle the huge shortage of care workers, and creating a Royal College of Care Workers comparable to the Royal Colleges of nursing and midwives. 

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: 

“As a carer for my disabled son, and after caring for my ill mother when I was young, care is deeply personal for me. That is why I am putting fixing the care crisis at the heart of the Liberal Democrat offer to the country at this election.

“Far too often, family carers are being left to pick up the pieces because the care system simply isn’t there for them. Millions of people are going without the care they need, while thousands are stuck in hospital beds instead of being cared for in their own home or a care home.

“We cannot fix the crisis facing the NHS without fixing the crisis facing social care. The Liberal Democrats would bring in free personal care to help people live independently and with dignity, in their own homes wherever possible.”



The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has said that implementing free personal care and other reforms to the care system would save the NHS between £2bn and £3.3bn a year. [IPPR]

A report by Age UK has found an estimated 1.6 million people aged 65 years and over have unmet needs for care and  support [AgeUK]

NHS Delayed Discharge Figures.

NHS: Woman waited nine months for hospital discharge - BBC News

2015-2016 bank tax revenues before cuts to the Bank Levy and Bank Surcharge can be accessed via the ONS. Forecast Bank Levy and Bank Surcharge revenues following the reductions are available via the OBR.

Policy Detail

The Liberal Democrats are setting out plans to introduce free personal care in England. This will be based on the model introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government in Scotland in 2002, so that provision is based on need, not ability to pay.

Free personal care would mean that no one, whether in a care home or in their own home would have to pay for their day to day care. It will cover nursing care (e.g. giving injections, managing pressure sores) and help with personal hygiene, immobility problems and medication.

Those needing care would still have to pay for their accommodation as is currently the case. For those living at home, they would continue to pay their mortgages, rent, bills, food costs, taxes and so forth as they did before receiving care.

Our plan covers social care for those over 18, including working age adults, the elderly, and the disabled.

The Liberal Democrats’ plan to deliver free personal care would see an additional £2.7bn invested in social care by 2028-29 above existing social care plans. 

Reversing Conservative tax cuts for big banks would raise £4.3bn a year by 2028-29, restoring Bank Surcharge and Bank Levy revenues to 2016 levels in real terms.

The Conservative Government introduced a series of cuts to the Bank Levy that took effect progressively from January 2016 to January 2021. In the 2021 Spring Budget, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Bank Surcharge would be reduced from 8% to 3%, effective from April 2023. 




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