Transferring social care from councils to the NHS could cost more than £300m, according to the organisation representing Scotland’s 32 councils.

Cosla, the umbrella group for Scottish local authorities, said plans from political groups to make changes to social care are an “expensive distraction designed to gain short-term electoral advantage”.

Councillor Douglas Yates, Cosla’s health and well-being spokesman, said: “In anyone’s book, £300m to change the badge on a social care worker’s shirt is not a good use of public money.

“There are huge challenges that we need to address but the national parties’ plans to move social care into the NHS are an expensive distraction designed to gain short-term electoral advantage.”

“The red tape that this will create would take years to unravel and force staff to spend that time sorting out structures and legal issues rather than delivering services to communities.

“And worst of all, there’s no evidence that the public would end up with a better social care service.

“I would also be interested in hearing what costs the party leaders have attributed to the restructuring of social care - since I’m assuming that all their plans are costed - and where that money will come from.”

The SNP favour a lead commissioning model, with councils and health boards working together to deliver social care.

Labour propose a National Care Service merging health and social care in one new service.

The Conservatives support the merger of the health and social care budgets, while Liberal Democrats are against centralisation of services.

Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the party`s plans would end the “postcode lottery of care” facing older people in Scotland.

She added: “The change that we and other political parties propose is about so much more than changing the badge on a social care worker’s shirt.

“Too many older people fall in the gap between hospital and social work meaning they don’t get the care they need and deserve.

“The current system is not fair, is not working and the status quo is simply no longer an option.”