South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has described the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government outlined in the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 1 September) as a missed opportunity.

The local MSP welcomed the First Minister’s commitment to take “the first step on the road to a National Care Service” but believes the commitment to focus on publishing another independence referendum bill is the wrong priority for the Government.

Scottish Labour has campaigned for a National Care Service since 2010, with the Covid-19 pandemic making the need for one clearer than ever.

Colin Smyth said: “Covid-19 has hit every part of our society hard, no more so than our care homes who have been the epicentre of the pandemic. The Scottish Government’s announcement of a review into social care is welcome but we don’t have a timescale which is disappointing. I hope it leads to the setting up of a National Care Service, which Labour have campaigned for over the past decade. We need to tackle the scandal of care staff being paid so poorly and remove the profit motive from the care of our oldest and most vulnerable citizens.

“However, the announcement that yet another independence referendum bill will be published in the next few months shows this Government are ultimately obsessed by one thing alone. This is a missed opportunity to focus on the immediate priorities of improving our health service, tackling the huge attainment gap in our schools and creating jobs to minimise the economic downturn hitting our area, instead of having yet another divisive referendum.”

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