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Melding: Free personal care for the elderly in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"The trouble is that the Labour Party has an army of people who think that they are rather clever — I was going to say that they are young, but they are not necessarily young—special advisers and researchers and the like, and they get things awfully wrong.

They have opened the Conservative manifesto and have wanted to damn it immediately, so they have not analysed it properly. Our approach is to take our opponents seriously and to read what is in their manifestos and then to respond. I will give a history lesson.

We were committed to forming joint care councils that would unite community care with personal care for adults. That would have continued to have been largely a public service.

Local authorities would have had a supervising remit over those joint care councils and they would have retained their duty to provide children's services.

It was a well-thought-out policy, and we may well return to it if we ever get the chance to govern.

One of the main criticisms from the joint reviews of social services was that local authorities, largely dominated by your party, were not developing social care sectors, and that is why we have such poor, meagre and thin provision across Wales.

This is the problem when people read material with a mind to damn others, instead of having an open and intellectual approach, and taking their opponent seriously. You need to get your researcher to look at these ideas with a little more care.

I commend the royal commission's excellent report, and it is right that we should think hard about whether we should provide free personal care.

I have thought hard about it and I think that it is difficult to do in terms of providing a service at an effective cost, or providing a service that is genuinely free and not constrained by a narrow eligibility criteria.

Scotland is facing a cost that is 50 per cent higher than the original estimate. A couple of years ago, we estimated that free personal care in Wales would cost between £60 million and £100 million. If we take the mid point of £80 million, half as much again would take us to £120 million, which is a great deal of money.

There are issues around how you charge and under what conditions you charge. Is it appropriate, in Kirsty Williams's example, that a carer does not receive some sort of credit for caring and that, perhaps, the charge that is put on a house is disapplied under those circumstances?

We could also consider delivering free personal care perhaps for the first three or six months in certain cases. Again, that would limit the approach. It would be fairly expensive, but it would be within the realms of reality.

I agree with the Liberal Democrat Party in one respect, in relation to seeking the powers here: it is more responsible to ask for the powers to determine the issue and then come to a decision following a review, than to say, 'Oh, we will petition the UK Government'.

The sum of the petition is one letter by the look of it, although we may find out that it was more extensive as a result of Kirsty Williams' approaches under the Freedom for Information Act 2000.

However, we should look at that carefully. I also favour the UK Government's consideration of some kind of insurance, so that people can insure themselves against the costs of personal care.

That could be delivered in terms of requiring contributions. In effect, it would be a voluntary tax.

I am still concerned about how the Government will deliver its promise of free care for disabled people. We are still awaiting a definition of a disabled person, despite the fact that that definition exists in UK law, and we do not know what criteria will be used to trigger that.

However, I warn those who believe that free personal care offers a magic solution that we would be faced either with high costs, or with driving those costs down, and trying to keep the demand as low as possible and ending up in the perverse situation of people having to be very ill with complicated conditions before they could access services, rather than our having wider criteria that encourage people to come forward when they need help to maintain themselves at home."

"Yr oedd yn rhyfedd gweld Aelod Llafur yn ymyrryd yn ystod y cyfraniad gan lefarydd Plaid Cymru i ofyn iddo egluro polisi o eiddo'r Blaid Geidwadol.

Yr oedd hynny'n ymddangos yn ddull gweithredu anuniongyrchol braidd, ond yr oedd, efallai, yn nodweddiadol o'r blaid sydd mewn grym.

Y drafferth yw bod gan y Blaid Lafur fyddin o bobl sy'n tybio eu bod yn eithaf clyfar—yr oeddwn am ddweud eu bod yn ifanc, ond nid ydynt yn ifanc o reidrwydd—cynghorwyr arbennig ac ymchwilwyr a'u tebyg, ac maent yn camddeall pethau'n ofnadwy.

Maent wedi agor maniffesto'r Ceidwadwyr gan ddymuno ei gollfarnu ar unwaith, felly nid ydynt wedi'i ddadansoddi'n iawn. Ein harfer ni yw cymryd ein gwrthwynebwyr o ddifrif a darllen yr hyn sydd yn eu maniffestos ac ymateb wedyn. Rhoddaf wers hanes ichi.

Dylai'r Aelod ymatal. Rhaid ichi aros am yr ergyd cyn y gallwch ddweud a yw stori'n un ddigrif ai peidio, ac mae'r un peth yn wir am ddadleuon difrif.

Yr oeddem wedi ymrwymo i ffurfio cynghorau gofal ar y cyd a fyddai'n uno gofal cymunedol a gofal personol ar gyfer oedolion.

Byddai hynny wedi parhau'n wasanaeth cyhoeddus gan mwyaf. Buasai awdurdodau lleol yn gyfrifol am oruchwylio'r cynghorau gofal ar y cyd hynny a byddent wedi cadw eu dyletswydd i ddarparu gwasanaethau plant.

Yr oedd yn bolisi a ystyriwyd yn drwyadl, ac mae'n ddigon posibl yr awn yn ôl ato os cawn gyfle i lywodraethu. Dyna oedd ein polisi, ac anogaf Val Lloyd i fynd at y ffynhonnell wreiddiol.

Un o'r beirniadaethau pennaf yn yr adolygiadau ar y cyd o wasanaethau cymdeithasol oedd nad oedd awdurdodau lleol, a reolir gan eich plaid chi gan mwyaf, yn datblygu sectorau gofal cymdeithasol, a dyna pam y mae gennym ddarpariaeth mor wael, mor brin ac mor ansylweddol ledled Cymru.

Dyna'r broblem a gyfyd pan fo pobl yn darllen deunydd gan fwriadu collfarnu eraill, yn hytrach na bod yn agored ac yn ddeallusol, gan gymryd eu gwrthwynebydd o ddifrif. Dylech ofyn i'ch ymchwilydd edrych ar y syniadau hyn yn fwy gofalus.

Cymeradwyaf adroddiad rhagorol y comisiwn brenhinol, ac mae'n briodol inni ddwys ystyried a ddylem ddarparu gofal personol am ddim.

Yr wyf wedi dwys ystyried hyn a chredaf ei bod yn anodd gwneud hynny o ran darparu gwasanaeth cost-effeithiol, neu ddarparu gwasanaeth sydd am ddim mewn gwirionedd a heb ei gyfyngu gan feini prawf cul ar gymhwyster.

Mae'r Alban yn wynebu cost sydd 50 y cant yn uwch na'r amcangyfrif gwreiddiol. Ychydig flynyddoedd yn ôl, gwnaethom amcangyfrif y byddai gofal personol am ddim yng Nghymru'n costio rhwng £60 miliwn a £100 miliwn. Os cymerwn y pwynt canol o £80 miliwn, byddai hanner cymaint eto'n mynd â ni i £120 miliwn, ac mae hwnnw'n swm mawr o arian.

Mae materion yn codi o ran y modd y codir tâl ac o dan ba amgylchiadau y gwneir hynny. A yw'n briodol, yn yr enghraifft a gynigiodd Kirsty Williams, nad yw gofalwr yn cael rhyw fath o gredyd am ofalu ac, efallai, yn cael tynnu'r arwystl a roddwyd ar dy o dan yr amgylchiadau hynny?

Gallem hefyd ystyried darparu gofal personol am ddim am y tri neu chwe mis cyntaf, o bosibl, mewn rhai achosion. Unwaith eto, byddai hynny'n cyfyngu ar y dull o weithredu.

Byddai'n eithaf drud, ond byddai'n bosibl ei ystyried. Cytunaf â Phlaid y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol ar un peth, mewn cysylltiad â cheisio pwerau yma: mwy cyfrifol fyddai gofyn am y pwerau i benderfynu ar y mater ac wedyn gwneud hynny ar ôl cael adolygiad, yn hytrach na dweud, 'O, erfyniwn ar Lywodraeth y DU'.

Ymddengys mai un llythyr oedd swm a sylwedd yr erfyn hwnnw, er ei bod yn bosibl y cawn ei fod yn fwy helaeth na hynny o ganlyniad i'r ymholiadau gan Kirsty Williams o dan Ddeddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth 2000.

Fodd bynnag, dylem ystyried hynny'n ofalus. Yr wyf hefyd o blaid gweld Llywodraeth y DU yn ystyried rhyw fath o yswiriant, fel y gall pobl eu hyswirio eu hunain rhag costau gofal personol. Gellid cyflawni hynny drwy ofyn cyfraniadau. Byddai hynny, i bob pwrpas, y dreth wirfoddol.

Yr wyf yn dal i fod yn bryderus ynghylch y modd y gwnaiff y Llywodraeth gadw ei haddewid i ddarparu gofal am ddim i bobl anabl. Yr ydym yn dal i ddisgwyl am ddiffiniad o berson anabl, er bod y diffiniad hwnnw'n bod yng nghyfraith y DU, ac ni wyddom pa feini prawf a ddefnyddir i gychwyn hynny.

Fodd bynnag, rhybuddiaf y rhai sy'n credu bod gofal personol am ddim yn cynnig ateb hud y byddem un ai'n wynebu costau uchel, neu'r rheidrwydd i leihau'r costau hynny, ac yn gorfod ceisio cadw'r galw mor isel ag y bo modd a chael sefyllfa wrthnysig yn y diwedd lle y byddai'n rhaid i bobl fod yn sâl iawn oherwydd anhwylderau cymhleth cyn y gallent gael gwasanaethau, yn hytrach na chael meini prawf ehangach sy'n cymell pobl i ddod ymlaen pan fo arnynt angen cymorth i gynnal eu hunain yn eu cartrefi."

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