Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Finance Committee

MSPs heard more investment in the preventative spending agenda is essential to meet the challenges of Scotland's ageing population and demographic change.

The Finance Committee was continuing its inquiry into the issue with a round table discussion on 21 November 2012.

The theme of this evidence session was very much that time and money spent now could help ensure the next generation of Scotland's pensioners would have the health care and the housing to live out their old age with dignity.

Mike Brown of the Association of Directors of Social Work Resources said currently the NHS were being too "reactive" with a third of the budget being spent on emergency services.

Mr Brown expressed concern there was no "spare money" to be put into preventative services.

He added: "Freeing up money for preventative services is very difficult, the Scottish government's Change Fund has made a slight difference but unless we can start paying for prevention then we will struggle to meet our future aspirations for our older people".

The call to think for tomorrow and stop focussing on today was echoed by housing organisations.

Calum Chomczuk of Age Scotland criticised the lack of targets for older people's housing.

David Bookbinder of the Chartered Institute of Housing said there would be little money in the future to build specialist housing for pensioners and he stressed the need for mainstream housing to be fit for both young and old.

This was a theme picked up by David Ogilvie of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations who said that due to lack of resources, councils were focussed not on the future right now but on their "statutory responsibility".

Fiona Collie of Carers Scotland told MSPs there are currently 660,000 carers in Scotland which is expected to rise to one million by 2037.

Ms Collie said unless these people were supported properly then they in turn could end up costing an already squeezed NHS even more:

She said: "Without involving carers and older people in the plans we make, then these plans are unlikely to work."

Nancy Fancott from the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland told MSPs third sector organisations had a "tremendous amount" to offer in addressing the challenges ahead.

As the session approached its conclusion Mike Brown said the amounts of money the UK government intend to take out of the benefit system was "absolutely staggering" and if the Conservatives won the next general election it would mean £3.9bn "coming out of the purses of people who were poor" in Scotland.

Finance Committee membership


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