MSPs urged to ‘press destruct’ on National Care Service as initial vote looms

An opposition attempt to refer the Bill back to committee was thwarted on Wednesday.

MSPs have been urged to “press destruct” on plans for a National Care Service (NCS) as the Bill is due to be voted on for the first time.

If passed the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill will centralise the adult social care system, but opposition MSPs have raised concerns about how the service would look and prospective costs.

The Government took the decision to use a process of “co-design” to create the service, passing a framework Bill and fleshing out the detail of the NCS in secondary legislation – an approach which has led to a lack of clarity on costings.

The Bill has also been plagued with delays and the decision to change the governance structure of the service, with local authorities to retain responsibility for social care staff and assets, while the regional care boards proposed would instead be a single national care board.

The Scottish Lib Dem leader urged MSPs to reject the Bill (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA).PA Media

Speaking ahead of the Bill’s stage one consideration in Holyrood, Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Care organisations, unions and local authorities have united to condemn the legislation.

“Even SNP finance committee members have suggested that the sums don’t add up.

“It is no wonder the legislation was pushed back three times.

“All versions of this bill are proving outrageously expensive and completely unworkable.”

He added: “It’s time to press destruct on the SNP’s billion-pound bureaucracy and put the money into boosting pay and conditions for frontline care staff and ensuring that conditions for service users improve.

“That’s what social care services really need.”

Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie said ahead of the vote her party would oppose the plans at stage one.

“Scottish Labour is steadfast in its support for a National Care Service worthy of the name – but the botched bill that the SNP, supported by the Greens, is trying to force through parliament is well short of what is needed,” she said.

“After an almost two-year delay, the SNP is now trying to railroad through a bill that is fundamentally flawed and will do nothing to address the crisis in social care right now.”

The legislation survived an attempt by Labour and the Tories to refer the Bill back to committee for further scrutiny on Wednesday, with MSPs voting by 64 to 52 against the motion.

In the debate on Wednesday, Ms Todd said the attempt to “essentially delay” the plans was “disappointing”.

“People need change and they are telling us they need it now,” she said about the Bill.

“Of the many thousands of people I have spoken to who are trying to access social care in Scotland now, none are telling me to slow down, everyone is telling me to speed up.”

MSPs “getting tangled up in procedural delay” would be “letting people down”, the minister added.

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