Care Packages (Withdrawal)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th March 2021.

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Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

As Scotland emerged from the first lockdown, I highlighted to the First Minister my concern that care packages, which had been withdrawn as the virus took hold, had been reduced or ended—effectively, that is a cut to assessed support under the cover of the Covid crisis.

I have a constituent whose support of £5,000 a year was withdrawn. To put that in context, his care for the next 10 years would be less than the cost of coaching some Scottish Government witnesses at the current parliamentary inquiry. My constituent’s care was withdrawn, despite the difference that it made to him and to his family member, as it had allowed the family member to sustain full-time work and keep well enough to support him.

Does the First Minister think that that is acceptable? What advice would she give to my constituent? Does she accept that her persistent decisions over the years to cut back funding to local councils has resulted in the basic needs of the most vulnerable people and their families not being met, and that lack of care has now, under Covid, become an unbearable crisis for too many people?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Johann Lamont’s characterisation of this Government’s support for local authorities is just not the case. We treated local government fairly during the darkest days of austerity. It was not easy, but we made sure that councils got a fair deal. During the pandemic, significant additional resources have been made available to local government.

The health secretary and I have made it clear on many occasions that no local authority should be using Covid as a cover to cut care packages. Therefore, I do not think that what Johann Lamont has outlined is acceptable. If she writes to the health secretary this afternoon, we will look into the case. I am very clear about that.

However, I am also clear that we all have a responsibility to raise such cases. All through the pandemic, the Government has told members across the chamber to let us know about those cases so that we can help to fix them where we can. That offer is there for Johann Lamont. If it is possible for us to fix that particular case, we will do that.

The general point is that no local authority should be cutting care packages using Covid as an excuse, and there is no reason why they should be doing that.