KATE Forbes has promised to raise the minimum wage for carers to £15 an hour if elected as leader of the SNP.

The Finance Secretary made the vow during a visit to Highland Home Carers in Inverness.

She said she would look to set a timescale for the increase "to be negotiated with the care sector and the unions."

It was, the leadership hopeful added, about making social care "a more worthwhile and rewarding career."

However, Labour was quick to point out that Ms Forbes had twice had the opportunity to push up pay in the sector to £15 and hour, and had twice refused. 

In last December’s budget, John Swinney, who is covering for Ms Forbes during her maternity leave, offered social care staff a 3.8 per cent hike, with the minimum wage going up 40p to £10.90.

When she was last in charge of negotiations in 2022 the pay jumped by just 48p, from £10.02 to £10.50.


At the time she said a £15 wage would cost an additional £1.8bn a year. 

READ MORE: Matt Hancock rejects blame in care home row after huge data leak



During her visit, Ms Forbes repeated comments made yesterday that she wants to look again at the National Care Service.

She said it should be “focused on recruiting, retaining and remunerating carers better”.

The Herald:

Ms Forbes said: “I fully support the establishment of a National Care Service which removes the postcode lottery in care.

“However, any service must have the confidence of trade unions, local government and the Scottish Parliament. As such, the National Care Service should be focused on recruiting, retaining and remunerating carers better.

“We need to avoid resources getting sucked into additional bureaucracy. The main objective is to ensure there is a universal standard of care across Scotland and it is sufficiently integrated to rapidly reduce delayed discharge.”

READ MORE: Kate Forbes: Scotland 'may not require' a National Care Service

The SNP leadership candidate continued: “I would propose a plan to raise minimum pay to £15 per hour for carers within a timescale to be negotiated with the care sector and the unions, and to other changes necessary to make social care a more worthwhile and rewarding career.

“I would also plan to create a learning pathway for carers to train as nurses through an apprenticeship model that combines work with study.

“Lastly, I want to protect a decentralised approach to delivery that allows for local variations, particularly in remote and rural parts of Scotland – like in my own constituency.”

Labour's Jackie Baillie was stunned by the pledge: “Time after time I have tried to get Kate Forbes to support this move and time after time she has rejected it out of hand.

“Little did I know that all she needed was the promise of career advancement to change her mind."

She accused Forbes of having a "brass neck and a lack of principle."

“I welcome all converts to this position, but we need to see the colour of Kate Forbes’ money.

“The key workers and the unions who have been turned away time and time again by Kate Forbes will be taking this with more than a pinch of salt.”