Welcoming the Regulation of Care Bill, Councillor Miller said: 'The general aims of the Bill are good. However, there are a number of areas where COSLA believes changes should be made to improve protection and promotion of the welfare of users of regulated services.
'One area which we are currently discussing with the Scottish Executive is whether it is sensible to have two new non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) (the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care and the Scottish Social Services Council) rather than a single new body with overall responsibilities.
'By their nature, these two bodies will need to have close links. Yet they will require separate management and support structures. Given wider concerns about the number and role of NPDBs, COSLA would wish to be sure that this proposal gives best value.
'COSLA is also concerned that there is nothing in the Bill to ensure a continuing local involvement by way of advisory committees. Our experience is that the current Advisory Committees have provided users, carers, service providers and local elected members with an opportunity to positively contribute, from a local perspective. This significant and valuable role will be lost if similar arrangements are not made in the future.'
Councillor Miller continued: 'COSLA will be seeking assurances on funding and transitional arrangements. We want to see transparency and fairness in the amounts that will be taken from local government to pay for the two new NDPBs and also in the fees, which these new bodies will then charge councils.
'We also need to be sure that satisfactory arrangements are in place in respect of staffing and location issues. These are not issues in terms of the principles of the Bill but they will be critical to its effective implementation.
'COSLA believes that the Bill should include a provision for the establishment of an independent children's commissioner in Scotland. This is not a new call. It is a development that COSLA has been seeking for many years.
'The establishment of an independent Commissioner for Children, with statutory authority, could do a lot to improve the lives of many of Scotland's children and young people.
'Much of the detail, of the arrangements underpinning this Bill, including the operation of the Commission and the Council, will be the subject of secondary legislation (Regulations) and through the establishment of the National Care Standards.
'It is important that the Bill provides a guarantee of continuing consultation prior to these being finalised and COSLA will be pressing the government to give such a guarantee at an early stage in the Bill's consideration by parliament.'