Minister refuses to publish updated costings of National Care Service
The Scottish Government has declined to provide updated costings to Holyrood’s finance committee on the National Care Service.
Social care minister Maree Todd said it was “not usual” to update financial memoranda for a bill before the end of stage 2 and she did not want to “confuse matters by providing multiple versions”.
The committee had previously written to the minister demanding fresh costings be provided by Friday 12 May.
It also requested the minister come give evidence, an invite which has also been turned down by Todd.
The minister has, however, revealed the government spent £12.3m in the last financial year on the NCS programme. The bulk of that (£9.76m) was for staff costs, and a further £1.9m was spent on consultancy.
The year before, in 2021-22, the government spent £1.3m on the NCS programme.
The National Care Service Bill has been temporarily paused by the government following mounting concerns about its costs and approach.
Todd said: “It is highly likely that the discussions and engagement, with key partners and stakeholders, that are to take place over the summer will bring more certainty to some aspects of the NCS and enable us to provide more detail or to narrow some of the cost ranges in the financial memorandum.
“I therefore consider that it would be more helpful to wait until after those discussions have concluded to provide a single update to the financial memorandum.”
The new timetable for the legislation which will set up the new service is yet to be confirmed.
Holyrood’s health committee is leading scrutiny of the bill, but the finance committee considers all costs associated with any bill and feeds this into the lead committee.
Todd gave evidence to the health committee on Tuesday morning, telling MSPs the pause would help “put a little bit more meat on the bones” of the bill.
She said: “I think it’s such a different way of doing things that it’s been a little bit hard for everybody – I’ll admit it’s been a little bit hard for me to get my head around in this new portfolio – so I think this pause does give an opportunity to get a bit more detail, a bit more clarity, a bit more understanding, and to be very clear.”