William Eichler 27 September 2022

Scottish council leaders criticise ‘disruptive’ care plans

Scottish council leaders criticise ‘disruptive’ care plans image
Image: DGLimages/Shutterstock.com.

Local authority leaders in Scotland have criticized the Scottish government’s proposals for a National Care Service, which they argue will divert ‘urgently needed funding’ away from social care.

Following an independent review into adult social care in Scotland, the Scottish government decided to establish a National Care Service, which would see social care responsibilities move from local authorities to Scottish government ministers by 2026.

The national body will set standards and commissioning priorities for delivery by newly established local care boards.

COSLA, the body that represents Scotlands councils, today criticised the policy, arguing it would see the ‘removal of local democratic accountability for care’ and the ‘centralisation of decision-making to ministers’.

COSLA also said that the move would divert funds away from social care and into ‘disruptive structural reform’.

In May 2022, the Scottish government announced ‘more than £840m’ of additional funding for Scotland’s social care system, as part of its spending plans for the parliamentary term.

However, official Government estimates accompanying the draft legislation show that running a National Care Service would cost up to £500m each year, representing 60% of the additional funding allocated for social care.

This recurring funding is in addition to £250m expected to be spent setting up the new organisation over the next four years.

COSLA’s health and social care spokesperson, Cllr Paul Kelly, commented: ‘Our efforts should be on improvements that can and should be made to care services now rather than on costly and disruptive structural change.

‘At a time when social care services are under extreme pressure, funding should be directed at addressing the many challenges the sector faces rather than the priority being the complex, time-consuming and unsettling transfer of local government staff and assets into a centralised structure.’

Cllr Kelly continued: ‘We know that many of the issues within the current care system are a result of years of cuts to Local Government and underfunding. Despite this, staff in social care have worked extremely hard to provide care to the increasing number of people who need it in our communities We know that this growing demand and the growing complexity of need mean that all of our resources should be focussed on addressing these issues.

‘The Scottish government’s National Care Service proposals, as they currently stand, fail to offer the investment needed to help make improvements and ease pressure on staff, services and improve the experience of service users.’

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