Scottish Labour has said it is “deeply troubling” that a contract to help design the new National Care Service has been awarded to a private company.
The party and trade unions have voiced concern about the Scottish Government’s awarding of a contract to consultancy firm PwC.
The £100,000 contract is for “mobilisation of the National Care Service” including a “high-level roadmap towards delivery of design”, according to a contract award notice.
Ministers are currently holding a consultation on setting up the new service, which will replace adult social care along with other fields such as drug and alcohol services, children’s services and social work.
Both Labour and the trade unions questioned why civil servants were not being used for the design process.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “It is deeply troubling to see this contract to design the National Care Service being handed to a single private sector bidder.
“Serious questions need to be asked about the procedure surrounding the tendering of the contract and why only one private sector body formalised a bid.
“But perhaps of more significance, why is there not the expertise within the public sector – in health and social care or with the army of civil servants in Edinburgh?
“If we are to have a National Care Service worthy of the name, then care users, social care workers, the third sector and experts must be at its heart.”
STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Whilst this is only a small contract, beginnings matter.
“We will vigorously oppose any move towards outsourcing the vital project of creating a National Care Service to companies with a vested interest in privatised provision.”
She continued: “We also see no reason why the skills and expertise of directly employed civil servants are not being utilised.
“South of the border, the past year has seen the continued growth of the consultancy gravy train with massive contracts awarded to companies with clear interests in private sector provision of public services, we do not want this replicated in Scotland.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “PwC have a contract to support the set up of the Design Authority programme management structure to support the introduction of a National Care Service, pending the findings of the consultation.
“This award is for programme set up only to help underpin our efforts in ensuring that the design, governance and structure of planning for the National Care Service builds on best practice principles for outcome-focused, person-centred design.
“The contract has been awarded through an existing national framework and offers the best balance of cost and quality.”