Care charities are facing a crisis over implementing the living wage, because of the chaotic way the Scottish Government policy has been introduced, a new report has revealed.

Paying care workers the Scottish Living Wage (SLW) is a key policy for the Government, which aimed to ensure all adult social care workers were paid the living wage of £8.75 an hour, by May 1st this year.

But a new survey carried out by the Coalition on Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS) has revealed that only 78 per cent are so far managing to pay the full living wage to all those who should be getting it.

Many complain that cash put forward by the Scottish Government to help fund the policy is not sufficient or has not reached them via councils.

A separate report for CCPS carried out by Strathclyde University says charities working in adult social care are warning councils they may have to pull out of providing vital services because they are being asked to make unrealistic savings to help meet the pay demand.

Now, with the Living Wage Foundation set to announce new rates this week, social care providers face increased pressure to deliver a policy which CCPS says asks its members to take on all the risk of delivering the Government policy.

Annie Gunner Logan, director of CCPS, said there was widespread backing for the policy in principle but there had been a lack of transparency about the way it was agreed and how sustainable it was at a time when local authority finances are tight.

Meanwhile she called for ministers to think again about plans to extend the SLW to other areas beyond social care. "This is a fantastic progressive policy, but they can't do it like this," she said.

"This has been presented as a collective endeavour. But if so, it might have been a good idea to discuss it with providers. We weren't asked or involved."

Meanwhile funding for the policy - around £255 million over three years - has bene far from transparent, she said. "Nobody was was ever shown how they reached that figure in the first place."

Problems have been exacerbated, according to the Strathclyde University report, by the way the money has been distributed. The Scottish Government money was allocated to health boards, who then channelled it through Integrated Joint Boards to Councils, who were then supposed to support payment of the living wage through the care they procure.

But the report says care providers viewed the process as "arbitrary", with some receiving no money at all, or widely varying amounts in different council areas.

Councils and IJBs also told researchers the system was "overly complex". Some said they had had to ask care providers to make cuts to enable the living wage to be paid, but had being servies might have to be withdrawn due to "unrealistic" demands for efficiencies.

There is also anger on the part of some charities which were already paying staff the living wage. They told researchers council's had been unsympathetic when they had asked for a share of the financial help on offer, which is being channeled to those not yet paying it. "Some providers felt that the Scottish Living Wage was rewarding competitors for being poor payers in the past, whereas they paid their workforce a fair wage that rewarded their skills," the report says.

Ms Gunner said there was anxiety about the imminent increase in the Living Wage, adding: "We are just over half way through a really challenging year implementing this year's increase. If it goes up again, that will commensurately difficult to deliver. The Government says it has the financial power, through procurement to extend teh SL?W to other sectors. We applaud that in principle. But this has been a massive transfer of financial risk to the voluntary sector. If they really want this to happen without massive sustainability risks to suppliers of servies, then they have to do it differently from the way it has been done in social care."