Scottish Labour votes to abolish charges for Social Care

Siobhan McMahon MSP, Shadow Minister for Public Services and Wealth Creation, says she is proud that Scottish Labour voted to axe the care tax.


As you may know, I’m currently undertaking a consultation on the abolition of charges for non residential social care. It is an issue close to my heart.

I’ve made my thoughts clear on this a number of times. Access to a high standard of non-residential social care is an equality and human rights issue; it cannot be fair that wealth is ever allowed to come into it. The unfairness of charges is exacerbated by the fact that charges for care services vary wildly between local authorities. An easier and fairer way would be for the Scottish Government to assist councils with the cost of the delivery of care and ensure that it is free at the point of delivery.

As a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Central Scotland I hold surgeries across Lanarkshire and Falkirk. Everywhere I go, I hear of the struggles from disabled people from all walks of life brought on by social care charges. Living as a disabled person incurs all sorts of extra costs in the form of paying for things like more heating and specialised diets. Further social care charges means many are left unable to enjoy the things in life that non-disabled people take for granted. The result is that many disabled people fall below the poverty line while others who need additional help go without it for fear of cost.

I brought forward the consultation because I sensed there was a real mood among people with disabilities to tackle this issue. I know from my years on the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee that charities representing people with disabilities have long wanted to see an end to charges for social care. Even at the height of the Referendum last year, a petition from “Scotland Against the Care Tax” garnered signatures from thousands of individuals.

I was delighted that members voted to commit our party to axe the care tax at the Scottish Labour Party’s annual conference at the end of October. So much credit must go to those behind the motion, Pam Duncan-Glancy, who has grown up having care charges a constant in her life, and her friend Sean Morton. Both Pam and Sean made impassioned pleas for the removal of charges that resonated with the hall. You can find Sean’s impressive speech below.


The success of the motion is something our whole party can be very proud of and means that we go into the coming election committed to scrapping this unjust charge on disability. This creates a real dividing line between Labour and other parties.

My consultation on the care tax is still open and will be until the January 31st. I would welcome as much feedback as possible, so if you have something to add please do not hesitate to offer your submission.

You can read the consultation document here and respond to the consultation via the online smart survey here.

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5 thoughts on “Scottish Labour votes to abolish charges for Social Care

  1. So there are a number of people who need to make a payment to local authorities for their care where necessary.

    This Care tax is money owed by vulnerable people, to Local Authorities who run the care homes and set the level of payment

    Of the 32 Local Authorities – 11 are controlled by an SNP + other coalition and 13 are Labour + others (with a fair number of Lab-Con coalitions) controlled.

    The Local Authorities have absolute control over this tax.

    If the Labour party wishes to remove this – maybe they should get their own Councillors in order first and set an example before grandstanding as the only party against it

    1. Under the current budgetary restrictions it is impossible for any council to maintain current provisions for vulnerable people far less take up the option for expanding care services to those previously exempt from free personal care.. It an unfortunate position for any council to be in far less councils who would be enthusiastic in their efforts to improve access and fairer charging policies to those unfortunate groups of people who currently sit outwith the scope of budgetary constraints. People under 65 who are living with MND, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, paraplegia etc etc.As a district nurse I have questioned the ethics of the FPC policy since its inception as it discriminated against younger disabled people who might have greater difficulties than an older person. I have been astonished that no one has challenged it in court on this basis.

      1. “Under the current budgetary restrictions” which are?

        Either they are due to the Austerity cuts implemented since 2010, or the Scottish government (or both)
        Looking at the Scottish government figures for 2013-2016
        Local authority budget from the Scottish government has been £7.839 bn )13-14, £7.843bn (14-15), 7.725 (15-16).
        The cut has come in this financial year – therefore the cut in funding over the past two years has come from Westminster’s additional payments to Local Authorities, since Labour voted with the Tories to implement the fiscal charter we are reaping what they sowed.

        Councils show numerous examples of profligate waste at the expense of frontline services, rather than pedestrianising areas etc. maybe the councils should be fiscally responsible and spend the money where it is actually needed

  2. Siobhan enjoyed your article it was a very interesting read here’s a wee bit of feedback, first is the terminology you use of care tax trying to put it on a par with the bedroom tax is a big mistake an indigenous as the spare room subsidy was introduced as a new additional charge by the Tories and rightly can be referred to as the bedroom tax as opposed to charges for non residential social care that the Labour Party introduced see the link below so to try to rename a charge that the Labour Party introduced is a stunt. I support and would like to see all social care charges abolished but as the SNP and Scottish Government do not have full fiscal autonomy and that all the powers in the VOW have not been delivered then how can they pay for it and anyway you do not say how you are going to pay for it please don’t mention the magic money tree.

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