Cosla demands ‘transparent conversation’ on costs of National Care Service

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants the new service to be up and running before the next Holyrood elections.

Cosla demands ‘transparent conversation’ on costs of National Care Service iStock

Scottish ministers are being urged to come clean on the cost of setting up a new National Care Service and where the money will come to pay for it.

Cosla, which represents Scotland’s 32 local authorities, made the challenge as it claimed the new proposals would see care services being “centralised”.

With care services having been put under pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, Cosla president Alison Evison questioned whether now was the right time “for another costly and protracted re-structuring”.

She argued that currently “our communities need our support to recover from the impacts of the pandemic”.

And she said: “The improvements and outcomes which are sought could be achieved across our communities more quickly and more effectively by empowering and investing in our councils and their local partners.”

Evison demanded: “What we would like from the Scottish Government is the costing work that’s been done on creating a new National Care Service and where the additional resource is coming from to pay for it.

“Local government will continue to work in a constructive and collaborative way with the Scottish Government to reform social care, but it is vital that we have a transparent conversation about the investment and support needed to do this.”

She added that Cosla and councils “continue to believe that services should be designed with people in our communities who use them on a daily basis and delivered as close as possible to them, and not centralised, as is being proposed”

Cosla has already spoken out against plans to set up a National Care Service with local government leaders concerned that the plans could also include services for children and young people, social work, community justice, and alcohol and drug services, as well as traditional care services.

With these all currently provided by councils, Cosla has said the new service could be the “biggest reform of the public sector in decades”.

Nicola Sturgeon has described the plans as being “the most significant public service reform since the creation of the National Health Service”.

In her Programme For Government she confirmed ministers would introduce the legislation that will allow a care service to be created in the next 12 months.

The First Minister wants the new service to be up and running before the next Holyrood elections in 2026, as she pledged that over the period the Scottish Government would increase funding for social care.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We will invest £800m and are committed to delivering a National Care Service by the end of this parliament in order to end the postcode lottery in the provision of care services in Scotland.

“The Independent Review of Adult Social Care found the current way of working has not fully delivered the improvements intended to be achieved by integration of health and social care.

“Our ambition is to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that wraps around families and smooths transitions between different categories of care.”