Scotland's flagship free personal care policy needs to be better funded and managed if it is to work in the future, the public spending watchdog warned last week. A report from Audit Scotland reveals budget shortfalls and ambiguities in the way the policy was implemented.

Auditor general Robert Black said: "Scotland has a growing older population; demand for free personal care will grow."

The report says funding information is hard to come by but estimates a shortfall of£63m in 2005-06. The cost of the policy was estimated at£1.8bn for the first four years.

Mr Black said the Scottish Parliament had decided to go ahead with the policy without proper financial information and risk assessments.

Health and well-being secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the report supported the Scottish government's approach. This has included raising payments for free nursing and personal care and setting up a review of funding headed by Lord Sutherland, a supporter of free personal care.

For more, see Michael White's latest column.