More than £150m has been spent on social care overtime in the last five years, figures have shown.
Data obtained through freedom of information (FOI) legislation revealed that 30 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have had to fork out because of significant staff shortages.
In 2018/19, £27,656,443 was spent on overtime in the sector, increasing to £34,316,478 by 2021/22 – a 24% increase.
And in the year up to November 2022, a total of £150,499,914 had been spent by the 30 councils since 2018/19.
The number of extra hours worked also increased by 15%, based on data from 24 councils.
The figure increased from 1.6 million hours in 2018/19 to 1.8 million in 2021/22 – adding up to 7.8 million hours of overtime in total up to November 2022.
The Scottish Conservatives, who carried out the research, have urged the Scottish Government to reprioritise funds earmarked for a controversial National Care Service, which aims to bring social care under national control.
It comes as the party warn of staff burnout after the GMB union estimated there were approximately 17,000 vacancies in the sector in Scotland.
Craig Hoy, Scottish Tory social care spokesman, said the “staggering” figures showed the extent of the vacancies crisis facing the sector.
He said: “This has huge cost implications for local authorities as well as risking the burnout of overstretched staff.
“Scottish councils are already dealing with savage SNP budget cuts and now Humza Yousaf’s failure to address staff shortages in social care has already cost them a staggering £150m.”
He added: “The last thing we need right now is a structural overhaul of the system to create a costly, centralised bureaucracy.
“The SNP should divert the £1.3bn they have earmarked for the National Care Service and give it to Scotland’s underfunded councils to allocate locally.
“Virtually every stakeholder has spoken out against the NCS, so it’s time the SNP ditched this reckless, unaffordable project before even more money is drained away from these vital services.”
West Lothian and the Western Isles did not provide any data.