Scottish Care has consistently highlighted the growing crisis facing social care across Scotland because of chronic underfunding. We are therefore not surprised but nevertheless disappointed to read the latest Annual Report from the Audit Commission on the performance of local government in Scotland.

Most social care in Scotland is funded by local authorities and voluntary and independent providers deliver most of the care and support which is needed. The fact that there has been a substantial reduction in funding for local authorities has immediate consequence for some of our older citizens.

Scottish Care members seek to deliver high quality, rights-based care and support to enable people to live as full a life as possible in both a homely setting and in their own home. This is becoming increasingly impossible to achieve because of the current financial restrictions.

The Accounts Commission report indicates that local authority budgets have seen a real-terms cut of 9.6% over the last eight years. Their warnings that Scotland’s aging population and demographic changes are increasing the strain on services is something which social care providers know every day to be happening already.

We agree with the Accounts Commission that there are many factors impacting on local government and their ability to adequately fund social care services, not least the concerns around the uncertainty which Brexit is causing.

But alongside the reductions in public spending we are witnessing a sharp rise in demand for social care, coupled with the presumption that families can bear more and more of the burden. If we are going to preserve an already fragile system then we need to think seriously about how we are going to fund care into the future.

The Accounts Commission has warned that without changes that some councils could be spending 80% of their budgets on education and social work alone by 2025-26.

Scottish Care CEO, Dr Donald Macaskill commented:

“Every week we seem to have yet another report highlighting the critical state of our social care system in Scotland. Yet no one seems to be listening or taking any action.

Four months ago in the Scottish Parliament I called for substantial investment into social care of several £100 millions and this was met as if I was asking for the impossible. What we got in the Budget was a £66million increase to partly fund an extensive range of commitments.

We have to stop using social care as a political football and we have to start getting real. Because the reality is that more and more of our vulnerable citizens are not getting the care they deserve. The reality is that hundreds of people are leaving jobs in social care every month because they don’t feel valued and suitably rewarded. The reality is that we are trying to care for more people on less resources.

I want to stop reading reports which describe a real crisis in care and start to see intentions and investment which speak of a society which wants to care, protect and support the most vulnerable. For that to happen we need urgent political action rather than empty rhetoric. We need cross political party working rather than factionalism. It is easy to find someone to blame – it is much harder to work together to address a crisis. ”