THE body representing Scotland’s 32 local authorities has hit out at Government plans to create a new National Care Service (NCS), claiming it may spell “the end for anything other than central control in Scotland”.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) launched the attack on the Edinburgh Government’s plans - which are currently only in the consultation stage - on Monday.

It came in response to a document published by the Government which shows that instead of only covering adult social care, the prospective NCS could also cover drugs and alcohol services, children and young people, and social work.

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Councillor Alison Evison (below), who represents Labour on Aberdeenshire Council and is the current president of Cosla, accused the Government of departing from the recommendations made in the Independent Review of Adult Social Care (the Feeley report).

She said: “The consultation launched today cuts through the heart of governance in Scotland – not only does it have serious implications for local government – it is an attack on localism and on the rights of local people to make decisions democratically for their place.

The National:

"It once again brings a centralising approach to how decisions which should be taken locally are made.

“We welcomed large parts of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care and have been keen to get on and deliver, however the vision this consultation sets out goes beyond the Feeley report.

"It isn’t evidence based and will take years to deliver – years when we should be making improvements which will benefit all users of social care services.

“It is deeply concerning that the consultation is also a considerable departure from the recommendations of the independent review set up to look at adult social care.”

Evison went on: “The lack of prior engagement with local government is not new – the partnership between the Scottish Government and local government which we have been seeking to build, continues to elude us in practice and it is the communities we serve who are losing out.

“Let’s be clear - this is not a ‘thinly veiled’ attack on local government – there is no subtlety to it and, sadly for local communities, the ‘onion peel’ of local government services by this Government shows no sign of letting up.

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“On behalf of the communities we serve, Cosla and local government will engage constructively with the consultation process.

"People may be surprised by the extent of services covered by this Consultation and I would urge as many as possible to respond to it, as this could really be the end for anything other than central control in Scotland."

Evison’s criticisms echo that of the Scottish Conservatives, whose social care spokesperson Craig Hoy also expressed concerns at increased centralisation of social care.

He said: “We will look closely at the SNP’s proposals but remain firmly of the view that local delivery is key in social care and social work services.

“The government’s plans go far further than the Feeley review’s recommendations.

“We will strongly oppose any SNP plan which threatens local services by taking power away from local communities or which increases centralisation and reduces accountability.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Local Government is and will remain an important partner in delivering social care, and we welcome their commitment to participate fully in this consultation process.

“This consultation is an opportunity for everyone to have a say in building a better social care system, and we will listen carefully to the views of everyone who can help us deliver that for the people of Scotland.

“In order to deliver a National Care Service that brings genuine benefits to everyone involved, there will continue to be a need for strong local accountability. Support and services need to meet the needs of people, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances.

"That is why the consultation proposes local Community Health and Social Care Boards to strengthen the voice of the local population, with people with lived experience and local elected members sitting alongside professionals.”