National Care Service: SNP must not squander £2 billion on something that nobody wants – Brian Wilson
First Minister’s Questions opened with a reasonable inquiry from the Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, about the projected cost of setting up a National Care Service. In response, we heard a series of rants about Brexit, Liz Truss and the general wickedness of the Tories.
All of which is Humza Yousaf’s entitlement on another platform but scarcely answers any question about a National Care Service. When the SNP set out on this journey, the implementation cost was £500,000. Last November, it reached £1.3 billion. Audit Scotland said then the true figure would be “significantly above the amounts currently assessed”. Six months later, there is no figure at all.
Legislation is delayed and the whole shambles has the usual SNP hallmarks – centralising, ill-thought-through and very expensive. Which is exactly what councils of all political complexions and trade unions have been telling them.
If a National Care Service emerges from this cauldron of incompetence, what will it deliver that decently funded local authorities could not? Why does it need a national hierarchy and a new set of quangos to preside over local care?
All this is unfolding while 12,000 vulnerable people are waiting for care packages which cash-starved councils cannot deliver. The real need is not for a grand new bureaucracy with “national” in the title but better-funded services provided by better-paid staff.
Spending maybe £2 billion on setting up a new organisation that nobody wants means spending £2 billion less on urgent, unmet needs. That is too much to squander on a Sturgeon memorial vanity project.
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