Ministers and officials meet COSLA representatives regularly to discuss a wide range of issues as part of our commitment to working in partnership with local government to improve outcomes for the people of Scotland. As part of that on-going engagement, I have regular meetings with the president of COSLA to discuss issues of common interest. Our last such meeting was on 13 March, when we discussed a number of issues including Brexit preparations, and we will meet again on Monday of next week.
On Monday of next week, will the cabinet secretary discuss the recent increase in local authority charges for social care, which has been breathtaking? In Scottish National Party-controlled West Dunbartonshire Council’s area, the cost of community alarms has increased by 100 per cent. Vulnerable older people are cancelling the service because it is simply unaffordable—more than 200 of them have done so in the last month alone. Will the cabinet secretary work with COSLA to initiate a Scotland-wide review of social care charges to ensure that they are affordable, and invite West Dunbartonshire Council to think again?
I invite Ms Baillie to write to my office with the details and I will ensure that they are passed on to the relevant cabinet secretary so that we can engage in the round. I know that local authorities have been treated fairly in the budget process and that they will be given an increase in their resource budget when Parliament passes the budget. Perhaps the discussion that Ms Baillie needs to have is with her local authority.