NICOLA Sturgeon has hit back at Anas Sarwar for “lecturing” her on fair pay during FMQs.

The Scottish Labour leader asked the First Minister about an Audit Scotland report released on Thursday which stated that there is “urgent action needed to address critical issues in delivery of social care services”.

However, the First Minister said she wasn't prepared to be lectured by the Scottish Labour leader after their administration, when it previously ran Glasgow City Council, denied equal pay to female workers.

The now SNP-run council is set to pay out £500 million to settle the dispute.

Sarwar asked the FM what action the Scottish Government is taking to address the challenges set out in the report.

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The First Minister replied that they are increasing investment in social care and increasing the pay of workers in the industry, as well as working to bring a National Care Service to fruition by the end of the parliamentary term in 2026.

Sarwar then claimed that a 48-pence pay increase for workers “simply wouldn’t cut it”, but the FM then accused the Scottish Labour leader of “misrepresenting the figures”.

She added that the increase is 48p per hour and “actually the increase is 12.9% compared to March 2021 as the first step to increasing substantially pay in the adult social care workforce”.

The FM conceded that the jump doesn’t go far enough and the government “wants to go further”, but noted issues with Brexit causing staffing issues due to the end of free movement which has impacted services.

Sarwar added: “We have been calling for a National Care Service for over a decade, but it can’t now be used as a government slogan to delay acting until 2026.

“Carers and those who need the care can't wait another four years. There are things you can do right now.

“So will the First Minister take the burden off family carers by restarting respite services, pause commissioning to allow focus on the delivery of social care, end non residential care charges and finally reward our frontline heroes with a pay increase they deserve?”

The First Minister responded: “I think those listening to my first answer to Anas Sarwar would not have heard me blame anybody. They would have heard me talk about the things this government is doing, building on the action this government has taken in years gone by.

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“But I can't allow this moment to pass without reminding Anas Sarwar well that yes, we have been in office in national government in this parliament for 15 years.

“For much of that in, for example, Glasgow City Council, Labour were in administration denying female workers the equal pay to which they were entitled.

“And it took an SNP administration in that council to deliver equal pay to women workers across Glasgow.

“So forgive me, presiding officer, if I'm not prepared to take lectures on that point from the leader of the Scottish Labour Party.”

The National:

The First Minister (pictured) added that the government will continue to increase the pay of adult social care workers.

She added: “We will take forward the plans to deliver that National Care Service, that reform that I hope future generations will look back on with as much significance as this generation looks back on the establishment of the National Health Service.”

It comes as the First Minister was probed on maternity services in rural areas by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.

Ross told harrowing stories of women forced to travel miles to or between hospitals in order to give birth or if they had any complications with their pregnancy.

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The First Minister said the government “recognises the desire” of women to give birth as close to home as possible, but added that it had to be balanced with patient safety.

She explained: “In some of the smaller units in our country sometimes the issue is the small number of births mean that it is not possible to have the specialisms to support the complexity of care that is required, there have also been over these years some recruitment challenges in some of these units that have added to these challenges.

“It would be completely wrong for a government or clinicians on the front line not to have regard for these very serious issues as we try to strike the right balance between quality specialist care and care as close to home as possible.”