National Care Service ‘could threaten delivery of vital services’
The Scottish Government’s plans for a National Care Service as they currently stand will not work for service users or communities, according to local government body COSLA.
The organisation also warned that, as the Bill stands, it would have a significant impact on the ability of councils to deliver not only social care services but other critical services that communities rely on.
In a meeting of council leaders yesterday afternoon there was unanimous and cross-party concern that the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill as published will see decisions around locally delivered social care services moved from communities to Scottish Government ministers in Edinburgh.
The powers set out in the Bill would potentially lead to the transfer of 75,000 local government employees from local authorities to care boards.
It was the strong view of leaders that local authority services, staff and resources should remain the responsibility of locally elected members, a view that has been echoed by all the main local government trade unions.
COSLA leaders also fear that the transfer of public protection duties from local authorities risks losing local expertise and knowledge, with implications for safety within communities.
COSLA, which represents every council in Scotland, has also cautioned that the Scottish Government’s National Care Service Bill will create significant uncertainty and further division for the local government workforce, at a time when there are already significant recruitment and retention challenges.
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.”