By Lucy Ashton
There is a huge and growing crisis in social care because of endemic low pay, which has a direct impact on the current crisis in the national health service, Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie told the Scottish Parliamen’s Budget meeting.
She added: “In that context, an increase of 48p for the work that social care workers do is derisory. They are the people who are on the front line of the pandemic, the people who are caring for our loved ones, and the people for whom we have clapped every Thursday evening.
“Why have the SNP—and the Greens, who put this in their manifesto—not listened to the trade unions, the social care employees and the people who receive care, who say that an uplift to £12 per hour is needed from next year? This is the second budget in a row in which we have asked for that.
“The proposal is costed and would be affordable without raising income tax by a single penny. Is it the truth that the SNP and the Greens simply do not believe that social care workers are worth it?”
Jackie Baillie added: “The people of Scotland are looking to the government for an ambitious recovery plan for our country – frankly, this disappointing budget is anything but what the country needs.
“Faced with the largest block grant in recent years, the SNP has decided to stick to business as usual and manage decline. The people of Scotland deserve so much better.
“The £18 billion for health and social care is welcome but the meagre 48p pay rise for care workers is frankly offensive. The SNP/Green government can afford to pay care workers properly but they have chosen not to do so. This is especially galling given that the Greens committed to paying £15 per hour in their manifesto prior to the election.
“A real terms cut to local government funding will also mean more cuts to local government services and the potential for council tax rises for hardpressed families.
“When the times call for ambition, the SNP delivers complacency. When our economy and our NHS require investment, the SNP offers managed decline.
“There is a better way.
“Scottish Labour makes no apologies for pushing this government to be bold.
“That is why, throughout the budget process, Scottish Labour will tirelessly fight for a fair and ambitious recovery for our economy, our public services, and the people of Scotland.”
But Finance Secretary Kate Forbes responded: “Jackie Baillie, pictured above left, will know that the increase has been costed. The Labour Party has been calling for £15 per hour, which would cost £1.8 billion. We have chosen to increase, over the course of this year, social care pay to £10.02 per hour as a priority and now to £10.50 per hour.
“That is 48p more per hour for social care workers. That is a priority that we have. The amount is higher than the national minimum wage and the real living wage because we believe in the importance of our carers.
“That is not just because they are part of our ensuring that the health service can continue to deal with the challenges that it faces, but because we want to ensure that we recognise and value the work that our social care workers do.
“The budget underpins our commitment to shifting the balance of spend towards mental health and primary, social and community care. It delivers more than 50 per cent of front-line spending directly to community health services and progresses our commitment to increase primary care funding by 25 per cent over this parliamentary session. Those are examples of where we have tried to increase preventative spending to reduce pressure on acute areas.
“The £1.6 billion investment in social care and integration lays the groundwork for a national care service. I can point to other examples where we have tried to shift the balance of spend.”
The Budget is providing record funding to health and social care, including £12.9 billion for health boards to support patient services and ensure frontline funding increases by at least £2.5 billion by 2026-27, according to government spin doctors.
This will be part of a total £18 billion allocated to the sector as it faces up to the continued challenges of COVID-19.
To retain care workers and support better pay and conditions, local councils will be required to deliver a £10.50 minimum hourly rate for adult social care workers in commissioned services, in line with the public sector pay policy.
And that is almost certain to reqauire a hike in council tax on which a previous commitment by the SNP has now been abandoned, leaving the level of council tax in West Dunbartonshire in the hands of of the SNP’s basket case administration, led by Cllr Jonathan McColl, right.
Any increase in council tax will simply lead to further mpressure on families who will continue to need food banks and help with spiralling rent and heating bills.
The Budget also provides:
- more than £1.6 billion for social care and integration to lay the groundwork for the National Care Service
- over £1.2 billion for mental health services
- £147.6 million to address drug deaths and tackle harms from alcohol
- £554 million to health infrastructure, expanding Scotland’s network of National Treatment Centres
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, pictured above right, said: “Investment in our health and social care services is central to Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19 – and to ensuring we properly recognise and reward the hardworking staff and carers who have gone over and above to make sure we are all cared for when we need it most.
“Our priority for social care is the creation of the National Care Service, but this Budget ensures we do not wait for the service to come into being to continue to drive up standards and quality.
“This Budget will ensure everyone continues to get the care they need, while repaying the efforts of those who are looking after us all.
“We will support services to deliver care – either physical or mental – in a way that works best for patients, while addressing the health inequalities our society faces, which unfortunately have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
The Scottish Government is investing Barnett consequentials in full, with additional spend in excess of £1 billion in health and social care.
Over 50% of frontline spend will go towards community health services, delivering on a commitment to increase primary care funding by 25% over this Parliament, providing more care for people in a place and in a way that meets their needs.
Direct investment in mental health has increased to £290 million, and with additional funding in services from money being allocated to health boards this will be in excess of £1.2 billion.
Wider investment in social care will also see an additional £25 million for social work capacity, £50 million investment in Fair Work for adult social care staff, £40 million investment in Multi-Disciplinary teams, and £5 million to support a right to respite for unpaid carers.
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