"European Parliament Must Give Support To Key Scottish Body"

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has called for a key Scottish body to be protected from a threat posed by a proposed new EU law.

The Scottish Social Services Council - which was established by an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 2001 - risks having its role undermined by a proposed European directive which will be voted on in the European Parliament this week. The SSSC oversees standards of social care in Scotland. It also maintains registers of social workers and other front-line personnel involved in the care of children, older people and other vulnerable groups.

The European Parliament will this Thursday vote on the proposed "services directive" which seeks to open up Europe's markets in services - including those of a social care nature. Under the proposals, people working in a particular service sector will be regulated by their home country's authorities - not the authorities where the work is carried out. This could potentially lead to social carers from other countries working in Scotland but outwith the control of the SSSC.

Mr Hudghton stated:

"The Scottish Social Services Council plays a vital role in upholding social work and social care standards. It was set up by the Scottish Parliament in recognition of the fact that social service workers, who often work with the most vulnerable members of society, must adhere to key principles. The Council also helps minimise the risk of inappropriate people taking up positions of considerable responsibility.

"Under the EU's services proposals, service providers will fall subject only to the national provisions of their home country. Whilst other countries will have their own provisions for monitoring social care workers, the practicalities of them supervising their nationals who decide to operate in Scotland are fraught with danger. The simplest solution therefore is to maintain the current position whereby the SSSC is the watchdog for all social carers in Scotland, regardless of nationality.

"The European Parliament has the opportunity this week to exclude social services from the scope of the proposed directive. Numerous individuals and bodies have been in touch with me to express their concerns on this issue, and I in turn will be urging other MEPs to vote social services out of the text".

Notes:

Under the proposed services directive, service providers will be subject to the "country of origin" principle. This states that the provider is subject to the regulatory regime of his home country, regardless of where the service is provided.

The Scottish Social Services Council was established by the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001. It maintains registers of, amongst others, all social workers and from later this year all child care workers and adult residential care workers.

The SNP group in the European Parliament has tabled amendments to the report to exclude social services.

The issue will be debated on Tuesday 14th February and voted upon on Thursday 16th February.

Full details of the Scottish Social Services Council's work can be found at www.sssc.uk.com

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