Scottish election 2021: LibDems back national standards for care homes - but no National Care Service

Willie Rennie has said his party will not support a “centralised” care service for Scotland, but still wants to see radical changes across the adult care sector.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said Scotland s social care system needed to be reformed after the "hell" families and staff have experienced during the pandemic.

He called for a "new deal" for the sector, with national standards and adequate funding for services and pay for workers – but he said he wouldn’t back the SNP plan to “centralise” the sector with a National Care Service.

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Willie Rennie has outlined his party's plans for adult care.

In a direct pitch to voters who previously backed the Conservatives, Mr Rennie warned that "bungled reforms" could risk the similar "expensive mistakes of the centralisation of Police Scotland".

"Liberal Democrats will support the establishment of national care service standards, with the funding put in place to meet those standards,” he said.

"We will prioritise the establishment of national pay bargaining, so that care workers get proper recognition, fair pay and better careers as soon as possible.

"By contrast the Conservatives are backing the SNP's plans to centralise the social care sector, a move that risks repeating the expensive mistakes of the centralisation of Police Scotland.

"I want Scotland to come together behind a positive programme that puts recovery first, not another set of bungled reforms."

He said his party supported national pay bargaining for social care workers, for employers to be bound by national standards of fair work, and for an effective complaint resolution for people when services fall short.

The party also pledged to scrap charges for care services delivered at home, to help people stay at home if they choose and make sure those with advanced dementia don’t have to pay for care.

Mr Rennie said he would involve disabled people and other care users in drawing up national standards and local commissioning, while relatives of care home residents would get “essential caregiver status” to prevent them being separated from loved ones as has happened during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "Scotland's social care sector needs reform after the hell it has been through in the last year.

"Our reforms are bold and liberal and will attract many people who backed Ruth Davidson at the last election, but are not attracted by the leadership of Douglas Ross and Boris Johnson.”

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