South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to address the “scandal” of low pay in social care.

Speaking during a debate on stage 1 of the budget in the Scottish Parliament last week, the local MSP also said the budget should be focused on supporting people during the cost of living crisis.

Colin Smyth said: “We need to focus what funding we have on how best we can protect services such as social care, deliver fair pay for workers and support people through the cost of living crisis.

“Those priorities are connected. We will not protect social care and the NHS without addressing the scandal of low pay in social care.

“A day rarely goes by when my inbox—like, I am sure, those of others—does not contain another heartbreaking case that exposes how utterly broken our care services are.

“Today, a third of beds in Dumfries and Galloway royal infirmary are occupied by patients whose discharge is delayed by a lack of carers.

“More than 3,000 hours of assessed care is not being covered because there are no carers to cover it.

“Everybody except the Government knows that we will not recruit carers with the derisory 3.8 per cent pay rise that the Government is giving social care workers.

“The SNP and the Greens should listen to the calls for a delay to their unpopular, unworkable and uncosted national care service plan and instead use the funding for that to give our carers a pay rise, which would save money in the long term by reducing the bill for delayed discharge.

“We need to better focus how we spend our budget not just in social care but in how we support people during the cost of living crisis, as their energy bills rise.”

Colin Smyth also raised serious concerns about funding for local government.

He added: “The Deputy First Minister repeated the claim that local government has an extra £550 million to spend, but he failed to say that he has ring fenced almost every single penny of that entirely for central Government commitments. As SNP-led COSLA has said, the actual increase is just £32.8 million, at a time when local government needs £612 million just to avoid more cuts, and that would not return a penny of the £6 billion that has been stripped from local government in the past decade.

“The debates that will take place in council chambers up and down Scotland in the next few weeks will be about not which local services to trim but which services to scrap altogether.”

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