National Care Service Scotland: MSPs voice increasing concern and frustration over lack of information
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson, convener of Holyrood’s finance committee, has called for new details to be released by Friday, May 12. The National Care Service (NCS) has been billed as the most ambitious public sector reform since the creation of the NHS. It will make ministers accountable for adult social care in Scotland.
However, it has also proved hugely controversial and is opposed by trade unions and councils.
Last week, Humza Yousaf, the new First Minister, said he would take “slightly more time” over the plans, with the first Holyrood vote pushed back until after the summer recess.
The finance committee previously raised “significant concerns” about the lack of detailed costs. In a letter to Maree Todd, the new social care minister, Mr Gibson complained about the “limited information” received by the committee.
He said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned at the lack of information available on the financial implications of the Bill and frustrated that we have still not received the updated FM [financial memorandum] we requested back in December last year, particularly given that the Scottish Government had argued that the original FM needed no amendment.”
Mr Gibson added: “The committee therefore repeats its call for a revised FM, which takes into account the recommendations listed in our report of December 1, to be provided at the earliest opportunity, and no later than Friday, May 12. We also seek within the same timeframe, a detailed breakdown of spend to date on the National Care Service, including those costs arising directly as a result of the provisions in the Bill and those which result from the wider National Care Service programme. The committee further requests clarification of the new timetable for completion of stage one proceedings on the Bill.”
Mr Gibson invited Ms Todd to give evidence to the committee on May 23.
Scottish Conservative social care spokesman Craig Hoy said: “It’s simply not good enough for the SNP to keep this parliamentary committee in the dark. Ensuring that the finance committee are able to scrutinise what these plans will ultimately cost should have been a top priority for ministers. Instead, the SNP chair of the committee is once again having to beg his colleagues for information.
“We already know the SNP have earmarked £1.3 billion to their reckless and illogical plans for a National Care Service, which they should be ditching altogether, rather than kicking into the long grass. The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for every penny to be diverted towards local care services instead. But if the SNP are determined to press ahead, then they must give this information as a matter of urgency.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of a centralising “power grab”. She said: “Thousands of Scots are stuck in limbo waiting for social care assessments or waiting for social care packages, but all the SNP has to offer them is their bungled plans for a National Care Service.
“That the finance committee has been forced to send this letter to break the silence from the SNP is truly shocking. Not a day seems to go by without the SNP attempting to cloak their own failures in secrecy.
“Social care in Scotland is at breaking point and a centralising SNP power grab won’t help.”
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