SNP ministers have been accused of a "partial climb down" after a deal was struck with council chiefs over controversial National Care Service plans meaning carers will remain employees of local authorities.

The Scottish Government’s proposals were initially criticised by the umbrella organisation for local councils, Cosla, over fears local decision-making and responsibility was being centralised by ministers.

Under the proposals, the Scottish Government wants to put social care on the same footing as the NHS, but huge questions remain over the practicalities and finances of the policy. 

But Cosla has welcomed the “first step” by the Scottish Government in acknowledging the authority of councils in any shake-up to care services, but stressed that “there is still more to do”.

Read more: Social care 'cannot wait for a National Care Service'

The agreement between the Scottish Government, Cosla and the NHS sets out that once the delayed National Care Service is set up, overall legal accountability will be shared between ministers, the NHS and local government.

Staff will continue to be employed by local authorities and councils will still be responsible for assets like buildings and the delivery of services.

SNP Social Care Minister, Maree Todd, said: “The Scottish Government has been working closely with local government to find a consensus on the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill, which will allow us to deliver on the urgent improvements needed to strengthen the delivery of integrated health and social care for people.

“This partnership between the Scottish Government, local government and the NHS helps establish where responsibility for people’s care will sit under the National Care Service.

“The detail of how this will work at a local level will be developed in the coming months and we will continue to update parliament on this work, along with the results of our ongoing co-design events taking place across the country, after the summer recess.”

Read more: Humza Yousaf willing to 'compromise' on National Care Service

Cosla’s health and social care spokesperson, Paul Kelly, said that improvements to services “must rest on an effective partnership between Scottish Government and local government”.

He added: “Combining shared national accountability with local expertise ensures the right balance of further improvement across Scotland, whilst rightly reflecting the diverse needs of local communities.

“In recognising this important first step, we know there is still more to do.

“As we progress forward, we are committed to continuing to work closely with people in receipt of support and partners to design a system that ensures individuals and communities always experience high-quality care and support.”

Scottish Conservative chairman, Craig Hoy, said: “The SNP are clearly still desperately trying to salvage their reckless and illogical proposals for a national care service.

“This partial climb down amounts to an unhappy compromise on accountability which still gives ministers centralised control and will only undermine efforts to deliver high-quality local care service in Scottish communities.

“Humza Yousaf has already had to kick this into the long grass due to the overwhelming opposition from stakeholders.”

Read more: SNP minister's plea for help on care service branded 'ludicrous'

He added: “Social care services are in crisis on the SNP’s watch and a costly and centralised care service is simply not the solution.

“The SNP should ditch these plans entirely and divert every penny earmarked into local care services instead.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, said: "This is a welcome acknowledgement from the Scottish Government that their plan to run roughshod over local accountability and decision-making for social care services was never going to work and amounted to little more than a power-grab.

"Millions has already been wasted on this botched bill, while the social care sector suffers from a workforce crisis, poor pay, and a shortage of care packages.

"Whilst this recent announcement is a step in the right direction, the SNP must show they are really listening to those in the sector and tackle these issues alongside establishing a National Care Service that works for everyone.”

“Scottish Labour have said from day one that any National Care Service must be focused on raising standards to improve the quality of care across Scotland, ensuring access to care packages for those that need support and delivering fair pay for the workforce.

Union bosses have welcomed the shift from the Scottish Government but called for assurances that the voices or workers are heard throughout the process.

STUC general secretary, Roz Foyer, said: “This partnership agreement is a much-needed first step and can be welcomed by unions across the country.

“This deal is testament to our collective campaigning, ensuring care workers will now remain employed by local authorities and that councils still retain a key role in delivering local care.

“We will ensure Scotland’s workers have a seat at the table and will engage fully in the government’s NCS regional forums taking place this summer.”

She added: “However, this cannot be a tinpot listening exercise. The Scottish Government must continue to listen to the voices of workers.

“As we build a National Care Service worthy of social care staff, we must ensure any new system is not-for-profit and unequivocally guarantees workers national collective bargaining, decent conditions and fair wages for all.”