I share concerns about the state of adult social care in the UK.
As you know, the UK Government has repeatedly delayed finding a solution to the long-term funding of social care in England and I believe UK Government Ministers have been complacent over this issue at a time when the health and social care systems have been struggling under winter pressures.
As you may be aware, health and social care is a devolved matter in Scotland. The UK Government’s forthcoming green paper on social care will therefore relate to England only.
The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 integrated health and social care in Scotland and free personal care is available for everyone aged 65 and over in Scotland who has been assessed by the local authority as needing it.
However, I believe that the care sector in Scotland is on the brink of a crisis as our increasingly elderly population puts new demands on services which are under-resourced. Indeed, since 2011 the Scottish Government has cut £1.5 billion from local government budgets which has directly impacted social care and other vital local services.
That is why, at the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which committed to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts and to invest in local services. This would include a plan to guarantee a social care package is in place within a week of an assessment.
It is also vital that staff have the time to care and I believe we should end the scandal of 15-minute care visits. I also support the introduction of a £10 an hour real Living Wage, which would undoubtedly make a huge difference to workers in this and other sectors.
I assure you that I will follow the issues on social care funding closely and bear in mind the points you have raised.