By Bill Heaney
Councils across Scotland, including West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, have racked up a £150 million bill on social care overtime costs since 2018/19, the Scottish Conservatives can reveal.
The figures, which lay bare the shortage of staff in the sector, show that the number of overtime hours worked by employees increased by 15% in that period – leading to fears of burnout and exhaustion.
Replies from 30 of Scotland’s 32 councils to Freedom of Information requests from the party also reveal that total spending surged from £27,656,443 in 2018/19 to £34,316,478 in 2021/22 – a rise of almost one quarter (24%).
It means that the total council spend on overtime over the last five years – including 2022/23 so far – stands at a “staggering” £150,499,914.
With costs rising and staff being pushed beyond their limits, shadow social care minister Craig Hoy, pictured right, is urging the SNP to U-turn on their £1.3 billion National Care Service plans, which he insists would only exacerbate the problems within social care.
The Scottish Conservatives are instead calling for that money to be reallocated to councils, who they say are better placed to determine local care needs than SNP ministers.
This ties in with the party’s Local Care Guarantee, to empower communities and ensure that everyone receives care close to home, rather than being moved far from their loved ones.
Scottish Conservative shadow minister for social care Craig Hoy MSP, said: “The SNP are presiding over a social care crisis in Scotland.
“These staggering figures highlight the huge challenges that social care workers are facing, with vacancies across Scotland forcing existing workers to take on more overtime.
“This has huge cost implications for local authorities as well as risking the burnout of overstretched staff.
“Scottish councils are already dealing with savage SNP budget cuts and now Humza Yousaf’s, pictured left, failure to address staff shortages in social care has cost them a staggering £150 million.
“Despite the enormous challenges facing the social care sector – from delayed discharge to exhausted, overworked staff – the SNP have offered no solutions other than their misguided attempt to centralise power through a National Care Service.
“The last thing we need right now is a structural overhaul of the system to create a costly, centralised bureaucracy.
“The SNP should divert the £1.3 billion they have earmarked for the National Care Service and give it to Scotland’s underfunded councils to allocate locally.
“Virtually every stakeholder has spoken out against the NCS, so it’s time the SNP ditched this reckless, unaffordable project before even more money is drained away from these vital services.”
- According to the GMB union, there are 17,000 vacancies in the social care sector within Scotland. A survey by Scottish Care, which represents the independent social care sector in Scotland, found that 88% of providers have faced recruitment problems. (STV News, 22 November 2022, link).
- Over £150 million has been spent on overtime for social care staff since 2018/19. Data from 30 councils showed £150,499,914 had been spent on overtime from 2018/19 to 2022/23 up to November. (Scottish Conservative FOI, Available on request, 25 January 2023)
- Between 2018/19 and 2021/22, spending on social care overtime increased by almost a quarter. In 2018/19, £27,656,443 was spent on social care overtime, by 2021/22, this had increased to £34,316,478, an increase of 24%. (Scottish Conservative FOI, Available on request, 25 January 2023)
* 7.8 million hours of overtime have been worked by social care staff since 2018/19. Data from 24 councils showed a 15% increase in the number of hours of overtime worked between 2018/19 and 2021/22, with 1,568,730 hours of overtime worked in 2018/19, compared to 1,809,980 worked in 2021/22, with a total of 7,810,800 hours worked between 2018/19 and 2022/23 up to November. (Scottish Conservative FOI, Available on request, 25 January 2023).
- Between 2018/19 and 2021/22, the number of staff undertaking overtime has increased by 15%. In 2018/19, 21,631 social care staff members undertook overtime, compared to 24,951 in 2021-22. (Scottish Conservative FOI, Available on request, 25 January 2023).
- Two councils failed to provide any data. West Lothian and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar councils failed to provide any data, whilst a further six failed to provide complete data. (Scottish Conservative FOI, Available on request, 25 January 2023).
Strange in an area with mass unemployment.