Dear Mr MacKay

I appreciate that in the run up to the Scottish Budget that you will have lots of reports to read and voices to hear, but I wonder if I can take a moment of your time and suggest that your budget needs to prioritise the social care sector in Scotland.

It’s often said, sometimes even by politicians, that social care is an expense and drain on society and that it’s holding back investment in other areas. That’s a lazy pitch because I’d like to suggest that by investing more in social care that the economic benefits – never mind the societal ones – are even greater than might first be imagined.

I say that for several reasons but probably the most important is the argument that social care enables the rest of society to function well and be economically active. That was the conclusion of an independent report published a few months ago which showed that social care is a net contributor to the Scottish economy of around £3.6 billion.

The arguments and figures are there in black and white. Might I suggest your budget is a great opportunity for Scotland to become a champion of putting social care at the heart of our nation.

I could draw up a long list of how you can spend your money – and I wouldn’t be the first I suspect. But we are facing real challenges in social care made event worse by the uncertainty over Brexit.

We have 9 out of 10 care providers struggling to fill jobs, nearly a fifth of nursing posts in care homes are vacant, we have people now being supported in care homes who would have been in hospital five years ago. Homecare providers are struggling to pay the Scottish Living Wage and remain sustainable. Costs and prices are soaring.

I could add a lot more to that list but the reports and the facts and the figures are all out there. What I want to say is that we need a priority and targeted resource – I have argued for over £200 million – to make adult care a priority for all Scotland.

It was Human Rights Day on Monday and with others I was at Parliament celebrating the successes of the last decade. We have a great opportunity to build a nation which puts human rights at the heart of our communities. You can continue that process by a human rights based budget which puts the interests of the vulnerable, the old and young, those living with mental distress or at the end of their lives at the centre of your financing of our futures. That’s what social care does it gives hope and healing but it needs resourcing. Social care makes us into the country we are and want to be.

Thanks for reading

Donald Macaskill

@DrDMacaskill