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Costs of National Care Service reduced and made less uncertain, MSPs told

MSPs have been discussing the Government’s plans for the proposed new National Care Service (Jane Barlow/PA)
MSPs have been discussing the Government’s plans for the proposed new National Care Service (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Government officials are more certain about the costs around the plan for National Care Service (NCS), MSPs have been told.

However, some on Holyrood’s Finance Committee said they were still uncertain about elements of the care system overhaul.

In December, the Scottish Government made significant changes to its plans for the NCS, pushing back the “go live” date by three years to 2029.

The amendments were made to allay fears about ballooning costs and a transfer of powers away from local government.

Social care report
The NCS will overhaul the social care sector (Yui Mok/PA)

On Tuesday, officials told the Finance Committee that the new plan would result in savings of between £249 million and £1.276 billion over a 10-year period, compared to the initial expected cost of the NCS.

Donna Bell, director of social care, said: “If Parliament agrees to our proposed changes at Stage 2, the cost of this Bill will decrease substantially.”

Committee convener Kenneth Gibson acknowledged there had been “dramatic” changes but asked how the committee could have faith in the new costings.

Ms Bell said: “We’ve been able to pin down the costs and reduce the range as you’ve described.

“We’re now in a much more certain position about the way forward.

“Certainly the range of variables that the previous approach presented were much more significant.”

Mr Gibson went on to say he is “still struggling to have confidence” and felt there should be more clarity around the national board for the NCS.

Both the Conservatives’ Liz Smith and the SNP’s Michelle Thomson raised concerns about the ongoing use of co-design – incorporating the views of people who have experience of the system into the Bill – and the cost implications of this.