THE rollout of Scotland’s national care service (NCS) has been pushed back by three years as ministers outlined significant amendments aimed at saving taxpayers £1.2 billion.

The NCS was expected to cost between £644 million and £1.26 billion.

However, in an updated financial memorandum to Holyrood’s Finance Committee, social care minister Maree Todd outlined revised costs, showing the total could rise to between £880 million and £2.2 billion.

The costs of the NCS have also been “rephased” across a 10-year period, taking funding into the next parliamentary session, to 2031-32.

But costs could drop to between £631 million and £916 million in the first 10 years if MSPs agree “significant” changes to the bill at stage 2, including the removal of “power grab” plans that saw the responsibility of social care essentially removed from local government.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon joins tributes to Mark Drakeford after resignation

The cost of the original plans, which would have seen 75,000 social care staff transferred to central government, is estimated to save £96-£270 million.

Ministers also proposed to abandon plans to establish 31 regional care boards, instead committing to exploring the reformation of “current local structures”.

The third “substantial” change proposed to develop a national board to manage the shared accountability process.

In her letter to the Holyrood committee, Todd said ministers previously committed to delivering the social care overhaul by the end of the parliamentary term in 2026.

However, she said financial constraints, as well as prolonged parliamentary scrutiny, would see the full launch date pushed back.

READ MORE: Gary Lineker 'may have breached BBC rules with Twitter spat'

“The most significant change is driven by the movement as to when NCS local care boards will go live,” she said.

“The go live date has been moved to 2028-29 from the original estimate of 2025-26.”

The changes come after the original plans evoked concern from local government body Cosla and trade unions, with ministers delaying a stage 1 vote earlier this year to allow for “compromise”.

It was dealt a further blow after the Finance Committee raised concerns in April due to a “lack of information” on the financial implications of the bill.

The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.