National Care Service

Thank you for your email concerning the Scottish Government’s proposed National Care Service.

Social care is crucial for the dignity and wellbeing of many of our family, friends and neighbours within society. When we get social care services right, it also relieves the pressure on our NHS, which can only be a good thing. For too long, however, Scotland’s social care services have been broken. The pandemic was a stark illustration of the SNP’s failure to value social care.

For the last 15 years, social care staff have been undervalued, service users have been disempowered and the sector has been plunged into a recruitment crisis.

Scottish Labour have campaigned for over a decade for the creation of a National Care Service that prioritises national funding and retains local services to ensure that local expertise, accountability and community input are not lost.

It is regrettable, therefore, that SNP Ministers have published such a poorly thought-out bill, which commands so little support across the board, meaning that we’re left with no choice but to recommend that the legislative process is paused, and they go back to the drawing board.

From the outset, SNP Ministers have been singularly focused on designing a National Care Service that centralises power at the expense of local accountability and governance. In recent weeks we’ve heard damning evidence about the Bill, especially around the proposed costs. Audit Scotland, an independent public body charged with auditing Scotland’s public organisations, has cast doubt on the costs associated with the bill. Even voices within the SNP have raised concerns, with one MSP stating that “what this [legislation] is screaming out to me is a huge risk.” A former SNP health minister has gone as far as to call the National Care Service as “nonsensical”.

As such, Humza Yousaf and his Ministers must pause this Bill and reconsider how best they can co-design legislation that delivers the social care reforms needed whilst protecting local delivery. In the meantime, we want to see the immediate introduction of key Feeley recommendations, including the ending of non-residential care charges, and tackling poverty pay in the sector, amid the cost of living crisis.

We need action now. The Independent Review of Adult Social Care published its findings back in February 2021, and these should be implemented immediately, including reversing the rationing of care which has been imposed in recent years and delivering the removal of non-residential care fees. Our social care workforce is undervalued and underpaid; the SNP and Greens awarded care workers a measly 48 pence rise this year. We are calling for an immediate pay rise to £15 per hour.

Please be assured that Scottish Labour are committed to getting social care right and designing a National Care Service that we can all be proud to support.

I hope this information is of use to you.