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by Louise Wilson
01 December 2022
National Care Service: MSPs warn of 'significant costs'

National Care Service: MSPs warn of 'significant costs'

MSPs have raised “significant concerns” about the cost of the Scottish Government’s proposed National Care Service.

The parliament’s Finance Committee, in a report out today, said the legislation does not come with an “overall estimate” of costs which have the potential to be “significant”.

It also criticised plans to use secondary legislation and business cases to implement the new policy, warning this meant it could not be “subject to the same in-depth and formal financial scrutiny” as primary legislation.

The National Care Service Bill is currently making its way through parliament, with a number of committees considering its different aspects at stage one.

The Finance Committee’s report only related to the bill’s financial memorandum.

Convener Kenneth Gibson said: “A large number of decisions are yet to be made, and no estimate of costings has been provided for VAT liability, transfer of assets and staff, and the creation of a nation-wide digital health and social care record. All of which has the potential to result in significant costs.”

“The significant gaps highlighted throughout our report have frustrated the parliamentary scrutiny process,” he added.

The committee is urging the government to bring forward a revise memorandum before the bill is debated by MSPs for the first time in March.

The bill was introduced in June, after an independent review of adult social care made the recommendation in February 2021.

The review said a national care service should be placed on a statutory footing to sit alongside the NHS.

But several organisations have expressed concern that the service would take power away from councils and therefore remove local decision-making from social care delivery.

The Scottish government has said that the service would end the “postcode lottery in the provision of care” and that additional money would be made available to ensure its success.

The Finance Committee has asked the government to provide full delays of underlying assumptions and cost estimates.

It also said that, should the bill pass, implementation costs, savings and forecast expenditure should be regularly reported to parliament.

The committee is cross-party, made up of SNP, Conservative, Labour and Green MSPs.

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