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Carers Bill

Published: 4 Feb 2016 09:00

Minister meets young carers ahead of parliamentary debate.

New laws to strengthen the rights of carers will be debated by the Scottish Parliament for the final time this afternoon.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, will meet young carers at Edinburgh Young Carers Project this morning ahead of the Stage 3 debate of the Scottish Government's Carers Bill at Holyrood.

If approved by parliament all carers will, for the first time, have the right to request or be offered an assessment of their need for support through an adult carer support plan or young carer statement. The definition of a carer has also been extended, so that many more carers will be able to access these plans

Local authorities and health boards will jointly be required to prepare and publish local carer strategies setting out their plans for identifying carers, assessing demand for support and containing information about the particular needs and circumstances of young carers.

Each local authority area will be required to have its own information and advice service for carers which must provide information and advice on, amongst other things, emergency and future care planning, advocacy and carers' rights.

Carers will be involved in decisions about their own support and the care they provide. When plans are being made for discharge from hospital, carers will have the right to be informed and have their views taken into account.

Mr Hepburn said:

"I'm delighted to be able to meet with young carers on the day that the Carers Bill is debated in parliament. Right the way through this process we have been in close contact with carers and the carers' organisations, listening to their views and working out how their needs can best be reflected in the legislation.

"It is by meeting carers first hand that you really get an appreciation for the very specific challenges they face, and how their lives could be improved.

"This Bill marks a key change in our recognition of the contribution of carers across Scotland. It signifies a real extension of carers' rights in order to improve carers' health and wellbeing so they can continue to care, if they so wish, and to have a life alongside caring.

"The Carers Bill is only one of the many steps we have taken to help carers. This government has invested nearly £123 million in support programmes, including funding for short breaks and for health boards to provide direct support. We have, among other things, introduced 'Carers Positive' to encourage employers to be more carer-friendly and have funded and supported the Young Carers' Festival, colleges to identify and support carers and the Equal Partners in Care (EPiC) workforce initiative.

"Society owes our unpaid carers an enormous debt of gratitude, and this Carers Bill represents an important step towards recognising the huge contribution they make to their family, friends, communities, and the wider economy."