A Scottish Social Care Budget

A statement from Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO, Scottish Care

There has been a great deal of emphasis in the media over the last few days about the need to put additional financial resources into social care funding in England and Wales and I have been asked what should be happening in Scotland.

As many of you will know Derek Mackay, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution is due to make a Statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon (15 December) on the Scottish Draft Budget for 2017-18. This will provide the basis for discussions with Local Government and it will provide some insight into the possible funding of social care over the next year.

Before the Scottish Parliamentary elections earlier in the year Scottish Care issued an Agenda for Care.

This was a ten point plan which asked all candidates to address the issues challenging the sector at the time, and amongst them was the inadequacy of funding for social care for older people, whether that was care home or care at home and housing support services.

Eight months on the care sector in Scotland is under immense pressure. There are several ways in which a Scottish Budget by prioritising social care can help support the reform agenda that is currently underway within Scotland.

  1.  Earlier this year the Scottish Government allocated £250 million to Integrated Joint Boards and part of this has gone to pay the Scottish Living Wage to front line care staff. However the process of achieving this aim has not been without difficulty. Many care home and care at home providers have had to pay on-costs and increase the salaries of those who do not deliver front line care; others have had to draw on reserves and savings to enable them to pay the Living Wage. In other words the welcome Scottish Living Wage initiative has been partly and not fully funded. We call upon the Scottish Government to ensure that any additional increases in the Scottish Living Wage placed upon care providers are fully funded and that consideration is given to other workers in the care sector to ensure equality and fair treatment.
  2.  At present one in four nursing posts in care homes are vacant with providers having to pay exorbitant fees to agencies to ensure services can continue to be safely delivered. We are calling upon Scottish Government to ensure there is dedicated funding to address the nursing shortage in the social care sector including by means of an immediate increase in student placements.
  3. Together with partners in Scottish Government and COSLA, amongst others, Scottish Care has been engaged in undertaking work to develop an independent and robust mechanism for calculating the true cost of care in care homes and care at home services. We are calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that there is sufficiency of resource to enable the required reform of care home and care at home/housing support services to be fully and properly funded.

We recognise that both local and national Government are under financial pressures and that there will always be competing demands on limited resources.

Scottish Care believes that expenditure on social care even in straitened times is money well spent because it serves as a preventative measure for individuals and in the long term is much more economical.

The cost of not prioritising social care at this time is a very human one. If we do not adequately support our care at home and care home sector we will end up with unsustainable services which will have a direct impact on individuals. We risk older individuals being stuck in hospital unnecessarily with all the trauma and distress that that causes, because without investment there will not be an adequacy of care home or care at home services. Not resourcing social care carries a real human cost.

Scottish Care believes that the time has come for our valuing of our older citizens and those who care for them to be at the heart of financial decision-making. The Scottish Budget offers all of us a potential opportunity to put older people’s care at the heart of our nation. It is an opportunity we should not miss.

Dr Donald Macaskill

CEO, Scottish Care

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