More than £150 million has been spent on social care overtime in the last five years, figures have shown.
Data obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through freedom of information (FOI) legislation, revealed that 30 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have had to fork out because of significant staff shortages.
In 2018/19, £27,656,443 was spent on overtime in the sector, increasing to £34,316,478 by 2021/22 – a 24% increase.
And in the year up to November 2022, a total of £150,499,914 had been spent by the 30 councils since 2018/19.
The number of extra hours worked also increased by 15%, based on data from 24 councils.
The figure increased from 1.6 million hours in 2018/19 to 1.8 million in 2021/22 – adding up to 7.8 million hours of overtime in total up to November 2022.
The Scottish Tories have urged the Scottish Government to reprioritise funds earmarked for a controversial National Care Service, which aims to bring social care under national control.
It comes as the party warn of staff burnout after the GMB union estimated there were approximately 17,000 vacancies in the sector in Scotland.
Craig Hoy, Scottish Tory social care spokesman, said the “staggering” figures showed the extent of the vacancies crisis facing the sector.
He said: “This has huge cost implications for local authorities as well as risking the burnout of overstretched staff.
“Scottish councils are already dealing with savage SNP budget cuts and now Humza Yousaf’s failure to address staff shortages in social care has already cost them a staggering £150 million.”
He added: “The last thing we need right now is a structural overhaul of the system to create a costly, centralised bureaucracy.
“The SNP should divert the £1.3 billion they have earmarked for the National Care Service and give it to Scotland’s underfunded councils to allocate locally.
“Virtually every stakeholder has spoken out against the NCS, so it’s time the SNP ditched this reckless, unaffordable project before even more money is drained away from these vital services.”
Holyrood minister Kevin Stewart said social care had been hit by a “triple whammy of Brexit, the pandemic and rising costs of energy and inflation”.
“The delivery of social care is currently the statutory responsibility of local government and we have increased the funding available to ensure that adult social care staff are paid at least the real living wage,” the social care minister said.
“The 2023/24 draft budget sets out £1.1 billion of investment from the health portfolio in social care services.
“Anyone suggesting a cut to this investment to go to other parts of local government spending will have to explain why they would cut vital support like the wage increase, additional investment in free personal nursing care, the independent living fund, funding for short breaks to give respite to carers, self-directed support, and programmes like Hospital at Home.”
West Lothian and the Western Isles did not provide any data.
Content provided by Radio NewsHub. Originally published on 2023-02-14 00:05:00.