Assembly votes for free personal care for elderly in 2008-9..

This is an interesting one for several reasons, one of which I hinted at previously. The Assembly has voted, by one vote, in favour of an Alliance party amendment to a SDLP motion which called for free personal care for the elderly to be provided for in the 2008-2009 budget and onwards. But, and it’s a big but, only after the Alliance party demanded a recorded vote – the deputy speaker, the UUP’s David McClarty, had initially ruled that the amendment was defeated and the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey is now to review the cost of implementing the measure.. in 2010.. The BBC report says

However, Stormont sources have said the tight timetable was not binding on the executive.

Important Update observer mentioned this last night, and the Official Report confirms it, I blame the BBC report.. but the UUP amendment was the one which was agreed. See below.The agreed motion (as amended) reads

That this Assembly calls for free personal care for the elderly, which was agreed in principle in the last Assembly, to be addressed as a new priority within the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, and provided for in the 2008-2009 Budget onwards.



The actual agreed motion, with the UUP amendment, was as follows

That this Assembly accepts the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Long-Term Care of the Elderly; supports in principle the introduction of free personal care; calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to report on the fiscal, workforce and administrative preparations required to implement the policy; and asks the Executive to consider the costs and method of delivery in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review and in light of the other budgetary pressures facing the Executive.

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  • kensei

    “However, Stormont sources have said the tight timetable was not binding on the executive.”

    How is then anything other than a complete waste of time?

  • Whatever Next

    To the tune of the ‘Eton Boating Song’:

    Jolly spending weather,
    And a dull right-on wheeze,
    Made in bad weather,
    Less cogent than a sneeze,
    Spend spend together,
    With our taxes as high as we please,
    Spend spend together,
    With our taxes as high as we please.

    And repeat ad naus.

  • Scotsman

    How will this affect monies from the DWP? I understand that benefits administration in NI is partly devolved, but not sure of the impact in terms of policy. In Scotland, the free care policy introduced by Henry McLeish in 2001 led to London removing £23m annually of Attendance allowance money. Alex Salmond has recently been eelcted and is asking for it back.

    In other words, will this cost them even more than they think?

  • The Devil

    Good news for Old Grey Gerry, Southpark Nursing Home

    When Whitehall is finished with him and the New Shinners are embarrassed by his shit Irish costing them votes and they both decide to ditch him, then he can snooze off in a nursing home reminiscing of how he nearly joined the IRA and wondering how the fuck he never got elected President of Ireland.
    He will no doubt suffer bouts of amnesia when asked about his stepping stones to a united Ireland but sure he can blame that on the Free-staters that wouldn’t vote for Sinn Failure.
    If they aren’t prepared to listen to “Tired Old Gerrys” piles of Falls road shite with large dollops of plastic emotions then shame on them for being properly educated.

    “they killed Gerry the bastards”

    But they won’t get his $1,000,000 euro mansion in Donegal or his £400,000 semi off the Glen Road

  • When will the UUP realise that free care for the elderly is actually in their manifesto? The way they seem to be deliberately delaying this, it will be in the next one too.

  • observer


    Not sure you (and others) have got this entirely right. Yes, the Alliance amendment went through by 1 vote. But then the UUP amedment went through on a voice vote – and as the UUP amendment deleted everything in the original motion and the first amendment, the motion actually passed by the Assembly was the UUP amendment.

    Ok, a strange fact of parliamentary procedure, but despite the Alliance amendment winning on a vote, the UUP amendment is the text adopted by the Assembly.

    If I am wrong, am happy to be corrected.

  • Another Scot

    Actually, nobody removed any attendance allowance money. But as that was money to pay for care, there isn’t any basis to claim it any more. That was well known at the time and as social security is a reserved matter in Scotland the parliamentarians knew what they were doing. Salmond is just after causing trouble by inventing a completely bogus slight.

  • Animus

    Yes, the UUP is aware that attendance allowance, to the tune of £7 million, would be ‘lost’. In any case, whether it’s 2010 or 2008, this is still something to be pleased about. Given the life expectancy in residential homes is fairly short, 2-3 years, sooner would certainly be better than later.

    Observer, according to the BBC, the vote was recorded, and they reported on the Alliance amendment going through.

  • observer

    Animus, my point stands – the BBC could just possibly have got it wrong?

    Yes, the Alliance vote was recorded. But the UUP amendment was then accepted without a division. The failure of other parties to put it to a vote actually meant that it carried the day – or am I wrong?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Check Hansard tomorrow:

    My guess is that by the time this gets implemented by the Assembly, most people of pensionable age will be long gone…!

  • Continental Drifter

    That’s hardly the point, observer.

    The issue is that the Ulster Unionists have been banging on about personal care since they failed to vote for it in the last Assembly, and now they’re delaying.

    I also wonder where the SDLP got this mythical 80 million figure, when the cost in Scotland was only 100 mil.

    Excuses, excuses.

    Government’s actually quite difficult, isn’t it?

  • observer

    Continental drifter, with greatest respect it is actually the point. The BBC and others were reporting that the Alliance amendment to the SDLP motion carried when, it seems, this was not the case. I accept it was a technicality, but technicalities tend to be important legislatures.

    As for Government being quite difficult – absolutely. Who would have thought otherwise? That said, we have just had a Health Minister tell us that he is committed to introducing free personal care and that his intention is to do so during the lifetime of this Assembly.

  • Pete Baker


    You are quite correct. And the official report confirms it.

  • IJP

    CD is also quite correct, though.

    Two Executive parties voted for the Alliance amendment.

    So the Executive’s already in chaos, as Peter Robinson rightly pointed out elsewhere.

    Joined-up government or sectarian carve-up – YOU decide…!