Elderly in care homes given less to spend than criminals

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Care home residents are having to survive on just £3.19 a day

By Cara Sulieman

OAPS living in care homes are given less money to spend than prisoners.

Residents who get their essential living costs covered by the state are left with just £3.19 a day for personal items compared to the £3.86 a day inmates receive.

The shocking revelation has been branded “ludicrous” by politicians who are calling for the personal allowance to be increased.

Care home residents with less than £14,000 qualify to have their fees paid by the council but any income they receive has to be handed over to fund their care.

This includes any state or private pension as well as social security benefits.

The only money they are allowed to keep is the personal expenses allowance (PEA) which is currently £22.30 a week.

Prisoners in Scotland’s jails are given up to £27 a week to spend on treats like cigarettes and chocolate.

The revelation has angered politicians and elderly charities who are calling for the PEA to be increased.

John Swinburne, leader of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, said: “This is absolutely ludicrous.

“It’s time society got a grip of itself and started looking after people who have worked hard for their country rather than the ne’er-do-wells who find themselves incarcerated.

“What can you buy for £3.19? The people who set this allowance are out of touch.

“They’re stripping the dignity away from pensioners.

“It’s time someone in authority took a step back and said this can’t continue.”

Critics point out that much of the money given to inmates comes from tax-payer funded wages they earn working in jail.

And many of the items they can buy are available to them at cost price in prison shops.

They are also provided with Government-issued clothing.

A spokeswoman for Age Scotland said: “We’re calling for an increase to this scandalously low allowance.

“Life just isn’t that cheap.

“These are the poorest and least represented members of our society and they are surely worth more than £31.9 a day.

“We submitted a 5000-plus signature petition to the Scottish Parliament in February 2008 asking for a review but as far as we know this has yet to be completed.”

Of the 32,000 long-stay residents in care homes across Scotland, around two thirds are funded by their local authority.

Under the free personal care scheme, they receive a contribution towards their care.

Those who have more than £22,750 in assets must pay for the “hotel costs” of their accommodation.

When their reserves fall below £14,000 the states pays for everything, but they have to surrender their savings and income.

Those who fall between the two threseholds also have to surrender most of their income.

The weekly allowance is supposed to cover all items that are not part of the state-funded package which includes accommodation, food and nursing costs.

Since 2006 there has been a 9.8 per cent rise in the allowance while prices rose 13.8 per cent in the same period.

Shona Robison, Minister for Public Health, said the government was reviewing “every aspect of care for older people” in Scotland.

She said: “This demand needs to be seen alongside other priorities at a time of reducing budgets.

“The allowance is uprated every year in line with average earnings.

“Last year the Scottish Government undertook an initial study into the operation and levels of the PEA.

“The study showed there was limited evidence about how residents receive and make use of the PEA, and further research would be needed.”

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