Including services such as adult social care and community justice in the proposed new National Care Service would be a “grave error”, ministers have been warned.
The organisation Solace, which represents local authority chief executives and other senior officials, has insisted that such a move is “potentially a harmful course of action”.
Solace used its response to a Scottish Government consultation on the creation of a National Care Service to insist that certain areas must remain as the statutory responsibility of local authorities.
These include adult social work and social care services, children and family social work and social care services, mental health services, community justice service, housing and homelessness services and alcohol and drug partnership.
Allowing a future National Care Service to take over these would be “potentially a harmful course of action which could undermine progress and in fact add complexity rather than bring transparency and simplification”, Solace stated.
It went to on argue that “removing the statutory responsibility from local control, closest to the people who need it, and placing it into central national control, would be a grave error”.
Solace added that there were “a number of areas of key risks, in particular in vital areas of adult, child and other public protection where an array of multi-disciplinary work is currently undertaken at a local level”.
The Scottish Government has set out proposals which could see traditional care services – such as residential homes and care for people in their own homes – come under the remit of the new National Care Service.
But the consultation document also said there was a need to “consider the merits of extending the scope of a National Care Service to oversee all age groups and a wider range of needs”, by taking in services for children and young people, social work, community justice, and alcohol and drug services.
Council leaders in Cosla have already voiced “real concerns” about this change.
Now Solace has warned that there are “areas in which attempting to replace locally delivered services with a central, nationally delivered service, whilst laudable in its aim, could have very significant and negative unintended consequences for service users”.
It said that the care sector had been “chronically underfunded for decades”, adding that this had been “particularly acute” since 2008.
But it said the Government consultation had simply put forward “one model of a national service as the only solution to the problems we face”.
The organisation complained that local government had not been involved in developing the proposals and the consultation had taken place at a time when care services were facing “unprecedented pressure” because of coronavirus.
Solace insisted: “Creating a National Care Service is perhaps the biggest policy implementation this, or any, Scottish Government has ever undertaken. It is worth taking the time to get it right – together.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have been delighted with the response to the consultation discussion events and the quality of discussion that has taken place. We want to ensure that the creation of the National Care Service is fundamentally shaped by the experience of service users so we can end the postcode lottery in care.
“We look forward to receiving written responses to the consultation by the November 2 deadline. We will then look at all of the written responses and respond in due course”.