The body representing Scotland’s 32 local authorities has slammed the government’s plans to create a new National Care Service (NCS), saying it could mean “the end of anything other than central control in Scotland”.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) on Monday launched the attack on the Edinburgh government’s plans – which are currently only at the consultation stage.
It came in response to a paper released by the government which shows that instead of just covering adult social care, the future NCS could also cover drug and alcohol services, children and young people and work social.
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Councilor Alison Evison (below), who represents Labor on Aberdeenshire Council and is the current chair of Cosla, accused the government of deviating from recommendations made in the independent protection review adult society (the Feeley report).
She said: “The consultation launched today strikes at the heart of governance in Scotland – not only does it have serious implications for local government – it is an attack on localism and on the rights of local people to make decisions. democratic decisions for their place.
“This once again brings a centralizing approach to how decisions that need to be made locally are made.
“We welcomed much of the independent review of adult social care and were keen to follow through and deliver, but the vision set out by this consultation goes beyond the Feeley report.
“It’s not evidence-based and it will take years to realize – years when we should be making improvements that will benefit all users of social services.
“It is deeply concerning that the consultation also departs significantly from the recommendations of the independent review set up to look at adult social care.”
Evison continued: “The lack of prior engagement with local government is nothing new – the partnership between Scottish Government and local government that we have sought to build continues to elude us in practice and it is communities that we serve who lose outside.
“Let’s be clear – this is not a ‘thinly veiled’ attack on local government – there is no subtlety and, unfortunately for local communities, the ‘onion skin’ of local government services by this government shows no signs of letting up.
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“On behalf of the communities we serve, Cosla and local government will constructively engage in the consultation process.
“People may be surprised at the scope of services covered by this consultation and I urge as many people as possible to respond, as this really could be the end of anything other than central control in Scotland.”
Evison’s criticisms echo those of the Scottish Conservatives, whose welfare spokesman Craig Hoy has also voiced concerns about further centralization of welfare.
He said: “We will look closely at the SNP proposals, but remain a firm believer that local delivery is essential in social care and social work services.
“The government’s plans go far beyond the recommendations of the Feeley study.
“We will strongly oppose any SNP plan that threatens local services by taking power away from local communities or that increases centralization and reduces accountability.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Local government is and will remain an important partner in the delivery of social care, and we welcome their commitment to fully engage in this consultation process.
“This consultation is an opportunity for everyone to have a say in building a better welfare system, and we will listen carefully to the views of anyone who can help us deliver that to the people of Scotland.
“In order to provide a national care service that brings real benefits to everyone involved, strong local accountability will continue to be needed. Support and services must meet the needs of people, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances.
“That’s why the consultation proposes local community health and social care councils to strengthen the voice of local people, with people with lived experience and local elected officials sitting alongside professionals.”