President Pat Watters said:
'The current situation with regard to a small number of individual circumstances where the policy does not appear to be fully implemented arise because of one important factor. Since 2002 when the policy was first implemented and costs were estimated there has been an increase of 29% for care in nursing homes and 68% for care provided in individuals own homes.
'While some increase was estimated and budgeted for, this level of increase could not have been, and puts pressure on the policy.
'There are now three areas where mature discussion between local government and the Executive is taking place to ensure clarity and the long term sustainability of the policy.
'These areas are, one - absolute clarity about the extent to which so called waiting lists are an appropriate form of actual management of an individuals care needs.
'This has been tested in court and it is clear that it is acceptable that there is a period of time between assessment and the delivery of the individuals full care package - as long as the situation is actually managed and reviewed.
'Secondly there now needs to be complete clarity about what is provided free in terms of food preparation.
'It is indisputable that the law is not clear and this leads to different expectations in the minds of different elderly people and their families and also to different operational policies by councils. In the absence of absolute clarity from parliament councils will seek to clarify this through legal channels.
'Thirdly given the huge increase in the numbers of elderly people involved we are concerned to ensure that there is enough money in the system to pay for this policy.
'Free personal care is a flagship policy and councils are committed to it. To imply that councils are not spending the money they are given for free personal care on free personal care is simply untrue - councils spend every penny they are given plus an extra£70m.
'There is no crisis in free personal care and we are already involved in sensible discussions with the Executive to ensure that this popular policy is sustainable over the coming years.
'This policy is too important to individual elderly people, their families and communities for it to become the subject of an ill informed debate in the press.'