FMQ: Nicola Sturgeon urged to take action on Scotland’s welfare crisis

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Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar has called for “our frontline heroes” to be rewarded with a better pay rise.

It comes after Scotland’s Auditor General warned that there were “massive challenges to sustainability” in the sector and that reform “cannot wait” for the Scottish Government to set up its planned National Care Service.

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Concerns have been raised about the pressures facing the social care sector.

Sarwar called the report a “stern warning.”

He said the coronavirus pandemic has had a “devastating impact”, adding: “Less than 1 percent of our population lives in a nursing home, but they account for a third of all Covid deaths.”

Speaking on Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr. Sarwar said: “The SNP has been in government for 15 years, there is no one else to blame.

“A sector of social care neglected before the pandemic, failed during the pandemic.

“A workforce ignored, overburdened and undervalued.

“Those who need care at home are neglected and are struggling to cope.

“Unpaid caregivers, disproportionately women, bearing the burden of this government’s failures.

“We have been calling for a National Care Service for more than a decade, but now it cannot be used as a government slogan to delay action until 2026.

“Caregivers and those who need care cannot wait another four years.”

Sarwar called on the Prime Minister to restart respite services, stop start-up to focus on social care provision and remove non-residential care charges.

He insisted that the workforce should also receive a “pay rise that they deserve; a 48p pay rise just won’t cut it.”

Ms Sturgeon said there was an “urgent need” for social care reform, adding: “That is what we are advancing through the proposals for a National Care Service.”

He said that the Government wanted to establish its National Service of Attention at the end of this parliamentary term.

The Prime Minister added: “In the meantime, we are increasing investment in social care.

“We are increasing the pay of those who work in social care because recruiting and retaining and valuing the social care workforce is an important part of what we need to do.”

Ms Sturgeon said that the Government had committed to increasing investment in social care by 25 per cent during this parliamentary term.

She said ministers had also taken steps to raise salaries, with a 12.9 per cent increase compared to March 2021 already delivered.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Does that go far enough? No, and we’ve said we want it to go further.”

She said: “We recognize the need to act immediately. We are taking action immediately.”

“We are also working with partners to attract more people to the sector.”

Ms Sturgeon said Brexit and the end of free movement posed “significant” challenges.

The joint report by Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission raised issues, including the growing demand for social care and the “fragility” of the workforce.

Auditor General Stephen Boyle said: “We cannot wait another five years for the planned National Care Service to be established.

“Action must happen now, and quickly, by the Scottish government.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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