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National Care Service could put services at risk, warn council leaders

Cosla has said the proposals for a National Care Service could threaten council workforces (Joe Giddens/PA)
Cosla has said the proposals for a National Care Service could threaten council workforces (Joe Giddens/PA)

Scotland’s council leaders have unanimously warned that plans for a National Care Service could jeopardise service delivery.

Following a meeting of local authority leaders on Monday, the health and social care spokesman for local authority body Cosla said that the proposals risks “destabilising” local authority workforces.

Cosla said the plans could see up to 75,000 members of local authority staff transferred away from councils to newly-formed care boards.

The Bill was introduced last month, with council leaders and opposition parties claiming it constituted a “power grab”, but local authorities have said they will work with the Scottish Government to improve the policy before it makes its way through Holyrood.

The service will be set up with the aim of supporting people in their own homes where possible, with seamless transition between services, according to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

A charter of rights and responsibilities would also be developed for social care with a robust complaints process in place.

Paul Kelly, the health and social care spokesman for Cosla, said after the meeting: “All council Leaders were in agreement that, as it stands, the National Care Service (Scotland) 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 spokesman labelled it as the “most ambitious reform of public services in the devolution era” which would “end the postcode lottery of care provision across Scotland”.

“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,” the spokesman said.

“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, we 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.”