SNP ministers have been warned that £1.3bn of public funds risk being diverted from frontline services under ambitious plans unveiled to set up a National Care Service.

The Health Secretary has insisted that the social care overhaul will be “the most ambitious reform of public services” since the NHS was established after the Second World War.

But the Scottish Government has been accused of a “the biggest power grab in the history of Holyrood” after revealing centralised proposals to set up a national body to deliver adult social care by the end of the parliamentary term in 2026.

Under the plans, adults will be supported in their homes by loved ones in the community wherever possible.

The flagship proposals to overhaul adult social care in Scotland also aim for a seamless transition between community and at-home services, a social care charter of rights and responsibilities being drawn up and visiting rights for residents living in adult care homes.

The strategy would place a focus on prevention and early intervention before people’s needs escalate to require more assistance.

The proposals, published by the Scottish Government, would introduce rights to breaks for unpaid carers, ensure fair employment practices and national pay bargaining for the workforce and a new National Social Work Agency being created to promote training and monitor standards.

READ MORE: SNP Government's National Care Service plans revealed with focus on support at home

But the Conservatives have warned against the vast costs involved in setting up and running the service – with almost £1.3bn needed to establish the project by 2026.

Under the plans, it is estimated that setting up a national body to deliver the National Care Service could cost up to £495 million – while establishing care boards could require up to £726 million of public funding.

Up to 700 government staff may need to be hired for the service to operate.

Scottish Conservative shadow minister for social care, Craig Hoy, said: “The SNP have spent years hollowing out local councils with savage funding cuts and now they are mounting a direct assault on them with their plans to scrap local accountability and impose total ministerial control via a National Care Service.

“Social care provision in Scotland is in crisis. But the last thing we need right now is a major bureaucratic overhaul of the system which would see precious resources diverted away from the frontline and into employing hundreds more management and admin staff.

READ MORE: Warning National Care Service could have "significant and negative consequences' for child protection

“The SNP Government’s own figures show that establishing a National Care Service could cost an eye-watering £1.3 billion in administration costs. We simply can’t afford to see that sort of money diverted from frontline local services.”

He added: “The plans to create a National Care Service will just be a repeat of Police Scotland on an even larger scale, which led to years of scandal, financial problems and leadership crises.

“We need to see the SNP abandon these plans and put every penny into local care services, especially when there’s a real risk of those accessing care not having their voices heard and at a time when social care provision in remote areas is deteriorating.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, labelled the plans “nothing less than the biggest power grab in the history of Holyrood” adding that it “threatens the very existence of local government”.

She said the transfer of more than 100,000 staff away from local government is a “recipe for chaos and “uncertainty”.

Cosla, the umbrella organisation for Scottish councils, has previously criticised the principle of taking responsibility for social care away from local authorities.

Cosla health and social care spokesperson, Paul Kelly, said: “Now that the details of the National Care Service have been shared through the publication of the legislation, Cosla will take the time and consideration that is rightfully needed with legislation of this magnitude, to understand the breadth of the impact it will have on communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

“Our primary considerations are the effective delivery of vital social care services to the communities we serve and the well-being of our workforce.”

He added: “We have always been clear that local government should be central to the provision and delivery of high-quality, locally accountable care services, that play a key role in promoting the wellbeing of our communities. We would reiterate our previous position that local democratic accountability is central to the way in which social care services are delivered.

“We are also clear that there are underlying challenges across the system requiring urgent and significant improvement, and which cannot wait for a National Care Service.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: National Care Service a 'fitting legacy from the trauma of Covid'

Unions have also raised concerns about the centralised plans.

Unite has condemned the proposals to transfer services, people and property from local authorities to the Scottish Government or to care boards, claiming it is a "recipe for disaster". The union believes it constitutes an "all-out assault" on local authorities after real-terms cuts to council budgets.

Wendy Dunsmore, regional officer for Unite the Union, said: “The proposals represent the biggest power grab by the Scottish Government in the era of devolution.

"The plans to transfer services, people and property from local authorities to the Scottish Government are a recipe for disaster and represent an all-out assault on local democracy.

"Scottish Government ministers will be able to unilaterally decide what services are to be delivered nationally or locally. Yet, there is next to no detail on major elements of these proposals including how local and special care bodies will work independently and with each other even if it's at a minister's sole discretion.

"The proposal to make local authorities a ’contractor’ for a service they currently provide by one of these care bodies is just simply bizarre.

"Unite has for some time been severely worried about the emerging framework surrounding the National Care Service and we have had every right to be. The Scottish Government could not have drafted a more incomprehensible, incoherent and dreadful Bill. These proposals will be vociferously challenged and ultimately defeated.“

But Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has defended his plans, insisting they will end a “post code lottery” for care in Scotland.

He said: “This is the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.

“People have told us they want a National Care Service, accountable to Scottish ministers, with services designed and delivered locally. That’s exactly what we’re going to deliver.

“The design of the NCS will have human rights embedded throughout, and the actual shape and detail of how the NCS works will be designed with those who have direct experience of accessing and providing social care.”

Mr Yousaf added: “We are going to end the postcode lottery of care in Scotland.

“Through the National Care Service we’re going to ensure everyone has access to consistently high-quality care and support so they can live a full life.

“This is our ambitious goal and while it will not be easy to achieve it is vital that we do.”