The press release issued by the Scottish Parliament on 19 December 2022.
The cross-party Education, Children and Young People Committee have been scrutinising the Scottish Government’s proposals. However, they have concluded that it is not possible to form a clear view as to whether children’s services should be included under any future National Care Service.
The Committee expressed concern that much of the detail of any future transfer of children’s services to the National Care Service would be delegated to Ministers, preventing the Parliament from carrying our thorough scrutiny of any changes. Furthermore, the Committee was told that research designed to help inform a decision about whether or not to include children’s health and social care services in the service, will not be ready until September 2023.
The Committee also notes the lack of information regarding the financial implications of bringing children’s services under a National Care Service. Its report urges the Scottish Government to model the cost of different scenarios where children’s services are included and excluded from a National Care Service.
Looking at children and young people’s care more broadly, witnesses told the Committee that existing services need to improve, expressing concern about an implementation gap between policy and the reality of delivering those services.
While some stakeholders spoke positively about the approaches taken in their areas, a range of other issues were identified, including challenges accessing services, poor communication and gatekeeping.
Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, told the Committee, “…there is frustration that we have all the right aspirations and good intentions but what happens is not always what was intended.”
In addition, the report calls on the Government to clarify its plans for letting young people design services at the very earliest stages of work to create a National Care Service. With a large number of children and young people receiving health and social care support, Members of the Committee agreed that it would be helpful to know how the Government plans to meaningfully engage with them.
Sue Webber, Convener of the Education, Children and Young People Committee said:
“We would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with us as we scrutinised this Bill.
“The feedback we had has told us that there is not currently enough information about the Bill’s impact on children’s health and social care services for us to form a view about whether this is the right approach for children and young people.
“However, we did hear significant concerns about the way in which these services are operating at present. Therefore, our report asks the Scottish Government to ensure that work on this Bill does not delay the improvements that are needed to children’s services now. Children and young people need to be at the very heart of those discussions.”
This report will now be shared with the Health, Sport and Social Care Committee, which is leading the Parliament’s scrutiny of the Bill.