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Councils to share accountability for services in Scotland’s National Care Service

The Scottish Government has said that social workers and social care staff will still be employed by councils after reaching an initial agreement with local government and the NHS about accountability arrangements for the National Care Service.

17/07/23

Councils to share accountability for services in Scotland’s National Care Service

Social workers will still be employed by councils under plans for the National Care Service (NCS), the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The confirmation follows an initial agreement reached between the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government.

Announcing the agreement, Social Care Minister Maree Todd said the Scottish Government has been working closely with local government to find a consensus to deliver on the “urgent improvements needed to strengthen the delivery of integrated health and social care for people.”

“This partnership between the Scottish Government, Local Government and the NHS helps establish where responsibility for people’s care will sit under the National Care Service. The detail of how this will work at a local level will be developed in the coming months and we will continue to update parliament on this work, along with the results of our ongoing co-design events taking place across the country, after the summer recess.”

The agreement aims to establish who will be responsible for people’s care once the NCS is established. Overall legal accountability will be shared between Scottish Government, the NHS and local government. Staff will continue to be employed by local authorities, and councils will still be responsible for assets like buildings and the delivery of services.

“New governance arrangements will be introduced to ensure consistently high levels of service across the country, while building the flexibility to meet varying community needs at a local level,” the Scottish Government said.

The consensus follows the Verity House agreement on closer cooperation between Scottish Government and local government signed last month.

The Scottish Government said that discussions have now begun with trade unions over the plans, and regional co-design events were continuing to take place to help shape the NCS.

Councillor Paul Kelly, COSLA’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson, said they hoped that the move would offer stability to the workforce.

“Further improving the experiences of people accessing and working in social care and social work services must rest on an effective partnership between Scottish Government and Local Government. Combining shared national accountability with local expertise ensures the right balance of further improvement across Scotland, whilst rightly reflecting the diverse needs of local communities.

“We know too that successful change is driven by the valuable staff who deliver services. We hope by setting out the continued role of local authorities in delivering social care and social work functions, and staff remaining employed within councils, we offer comfort and stability to the Local Government workforce.

“In recognising this important first step, we know there is still more to do. As we progress forward, we are committed to continuing to work closely with people in receipt of support and partners to design a system that ensures individuals and communities always experience high quality care and support.”

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