Scottish Government Publishes National Care Service Bill
The Scottish Government has introduced its National Care Service Bill to parliament.
Creating a National Care Service (NCS) was one of the key policies put forward by the SNP in their manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election. They claimed that "to ensure our social care system consistently delivers high quality services across Scotland, we will take forward the recommendations of the independent Feeley review and establish a National Care Service in the next parliamentary term." The Feeley Review can be read here.
Following a lengthy consultation process, the Scottish Government has now published its Bill. The legislation sets out principles for the National Care Service and places a duty on Scottish Ministers to promote a care service designed to secure improvement in the wellbeing of the people of Scotland. You can read the Bill and accompanying documents below.
The Bill is very much a framework at this point. More details will be developed during its passage through parliament and following further consultation. We've prepared an initial briefing on the key points of the Bill here.
While the Scottish Government say that their proposal will "end the postcode lottery of care in Scotland" opposition parties (Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) have been quick to brand it as a "power grab" and a "bureaucratic overhaul" that will cost too much. Read more here.
What Happens Now?
Now that the legislation has been introduced, it will be scrutinised and amended by MSPs from all parties in three stages.
The first stage is for the Bill to be given to a lead committee to examine in September 2022. This might take a few months as the committee hears evidence from various stakeholders on the intention and potential impact of the legislation. The committee will then submit a report recommending whether the parliament should support the general principles of the Bill. It will then be debated in the chamber and a vote taken to decide whether or not the Bill moves to the second stage.
If the Bill proceeds to stage two, it can now be amended. MSPs will table amendments which will be voted on by the lead committee. The amended legislation (or unamended, if no amendments are made) then proceeds to its final stage where MSPs can propose further amendments which are now voted on by all MSPs in the chamber. The Bill will be debated and a final vote is taken to determine whether or not it will become law.
The process could take up to a year until the Bill is finally voted on at stage three. You can read about the full parliamentary process for a Government Bill here.
Our focus remains as ever; influencing this process to achieve the best outcomes for everyone who needs support by ensuring a healthy and robust social work profession. The introduction of the Bill is only the beginning and the real outcomes will be achieved over the coming weeks and months as the legislation takes shape.
Your views are crucial in this process. As we continue to brief MSPs and seek to influence this Bill, we'll be depending on your feedback. Keep an eye on our bulletins for how you can contribute. You can also keep informed of all work relating to the NCS in our hub.
Finally, you can always contact us with your views and questions. Email our Policy Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org