National Care Service plan 'will threaten delivery of vital services'

COSLA says the current plans need to be changed or they risk harming service users and communities.

Scottish Government warned National Care Service plans ‘will threaten delivery of vital services’ iStock
Care: COSLA issues warning over government plans.

The Scottish Government has been warned that its planned National Care Service will threaten the delivery of vital services.

The Convention Of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) said the current plans need to be changed or they risk harming service users and communities.

COSLA believes the bill will have a “significant impact” on the delivery of social care services and other “critical council services that communities rely on”.

A meeting of council leaders on Monday found cross-party concern that the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill will see decisions around locally delivered social care services moved from communities to Scottish Government ministers.

COSLA, which represents all of Scotland’s councils, say the powers set out in the bill could potentially lead to the transfer of 75,000 government employees from local authorities to care boards.

Councillor Paul Kelly, COSLA’s health and social care spokesperson, said: “All council leaders were in agreement that as it stands, the National Care Service Bill with the power to transfer local authority functions, staff, property and liabilities to a National Care Service, poses a serious risk to councils’ ability to deliver a wide range of services for communities including non-social work and care services.

“Leaders were very clear that this approach would result in destabilising the local government workforce and potentially impacting on the sustainability of some councils to carry out their functions and responsibilities.

“COSLA is committed to the change, improvement and investment needed in our social care system and will continue to work with the Scottish Government and partners to better the experiences of both those using and delivering social care services now and in the near future and not wait until a National Care Service is in place.

“COSLA will seek further engagement with the Scottish Government in an attempt to ensure that there is no disruption to local services by ensuring that local authority staff remain in local authorities.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The National Care Service is the most ambitious reform of public services in the devolution era. It will end the postcode lottery of care provision across Scotland and ensure those who need it have access to consistently high-quality care and support so they can live a full life, wherever they are.

“A key focus of the proposals is that services will be designed and delivered locally, including by local Care Boards, whilst ensuring Ministers are ultimately accountable.

“Locally-employed staff will continue to have an important role to play in commissioning and delivery and we will continue to work closely with local authorities, the workforce and unions to ensure that the impact on staff of any changes is fully considered.

“At the same time, will also work to improve the pay and terms and conditions for those who work in social care, embedding the fair work agenda to build a workforce that is fit for the future and delivers the best possible service for the people of Scotland.”