Victims of strokes and serious accidents will be given specialised help to cope with their new circumstances in the final pre-election Queen's Speech today.
Gordon Brown will put a drive to boost social care at the heart of his legislative plans – and attempt to open up a dividing line with the Conservatives.
A £670m-a-year plan to provide free personal care to 400,000 mainly elderly people will be set out by the Prime Minister. It will include a £130m scheme to enable people who suffer life-changing illnesses, such as strokes or major accidents, to remain in their own homes. The cash will be used to provide them with personal care after they return from hospital. It will also go on modifications to their homes, such as grab rails and emergency alarms. Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, will argue the moves will help people regain self-confidence and dignity. He will say that much of the money for the scheme, which would start next October, will be taken from Department of Health spending on advertising, management consultancy and research.
The Queen's Speech will also announce moves to extend the powers of patients and parents, toughen penalties for knife crime and curb the most excessive of bankers' bonuses.