Debate on new rights for Scotland’s carers
A new bill that will strengthen the support available to Scotland's carers will be debated in Parliament today.
Members will be asked to agree to the general principles of the Carers Bill during the Stage 1 debate this afternoon.
The Carers Bill will give every adult carer the right to a support plan, setting out their needs and the help and support they are entitled to. Young carers will receive a similar Young Carer Statement. Carers and carers organisations have said that support for the cared for person when they are unexpectedly unavailable is a significant concern for carers. This has also been recognised by the Health and Sport Committee. The Government has therefore announced its intention to amend the Bill at Stage 2 to ensure that support plans must include information about emergency planning.
The Bill will give Ministers the power to set regulations about important national matters regarding support to carers. The whole intent of the Bill is to ensure a more consistent approach to supporting carers. Local councils will also be required to publish local carer strategies, and each local authority area will have to provide an advice and information service for carers.
Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said:
"Latest figures tell us there are around 759,000 carers in Scotland, that works out at around 17 per cent of the population. Of those, around 171,000 provide more than 35 hours of care per week, and 29,000 are aged 16 and under.
"Through this Carers Bill we hope to give carers more rights, more support and more peace of mind.
"This government has invested nearly £123 million in programmes to support carers, including £17.1 million for short breaks and £33.9 million for health boards to provide direct support. However, we are determined to do more to provide help and support to unpaid carers who make such a tremendous and selfless contribution to society.
"We have taken on board some of the useful contributions from the Health and Sport Committee, and I look forward to setting out the detail of that in Parliament during the debate. We will also continue to work closely with the national carer organisations, and seek the views of individual carers, to hear what they think about the Bill, and what might strengthen it.
"This government recognises the vital role that carers fulfil by caring for their family, friends and neighbours. We believe that they are undervalued considering the contribution they make to our society. The support they receive in the form of Carer's Allowance is the lowest of all working age benefits. Our view is that is simply not fair. When this Government gets the power to do so, we will begin to increase Carer's Allowance so that it is paid at the same level as jobseeker's allowance which would give carers about £600 more a year."