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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
04 April 2023
Scottish Conservatives call for National Care Service to be ditched

Residents in a care home | Alamy

Scottish Conservatives call for National Care Service to be ditched

The Scottish Conservatives have called on Humza Yousaf to ditch his National Care Service (NCS) proposals after new figures revealed the costs of preparing for it.   

A Freedom of Information request by the Tories shows that the number of civil servants working on the bill has quadrupled from 40 in February 2022 to 166 in February 2023.  

It has also been revealed that the salary bill of the civil servants working on the NCS is almost £7m as of August 2021 – with £989,000 spent in November 2022 alone. 

Conservative shadow minister for social care Craig Hoy, who has described the proposals as “reckless”, has urged Yousaf, who unveiled the bill while he was health secretary, to “swallow his pride and ditch these costly plans”. 

Hoy said: “Humza Yousaf is virtually the only person who still thinks his reckless, unaffordable plan for a National Care Service is a good idea. These eye-watering figures reveal the already-huge cost implications of his proposals, not to mention the use of valuable civil service resources.  

“As health secretary, Humza Yousaf was an architect of this misguided policy – which has been opposed by virtually every stakeholder, including SNP MSPs. But it’s time for him to swallow his pride and ditch it now. These plans are unworkable, and it is clear from these statistics that this project is already costing a fortune.  

“Social care is in crisis in Scotland but the last thing we need is this bureaucratic nightmare, which will only divert scarce funds away from frontline care services. Kicking the NCS into the long grass, by merely delaying it, won’t cut it. Humza Yousaf must admit he got it wrong and stop pouring good money after bad.  

“He should instead pass this funding on to Scotland’s councils, which are far better placed than SNP ministers to determine local care needs in their areas.”  

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our plan for a National Care Service will deliver consistency and quality of care. Health and Social Care Partnerships received an additional £528 million for 2022-23 to improve care and increase staff pay and we are working with those who access and provide care to design how the NCS will work. 

“The First Minister met with the Cosla President, Councillor Shona Morrison, last week to agree a new deal which provides greater flexibility over local funding and clear accountability for delivering shared priorities. Despite UK Government cuts, we have protected councils in the most challenging Budget since devolution to provide nearly £13.5 billion in the 2023-24 Local Government Settlement – a cash increase of over £793 million or 6.3%, which is a real terms increase of £376 million or 3%.” 

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