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10/03/15 08:50

New rights for carers

Carers Bill published today

A new Carers Bill, that will enshrine carers’ rights in law for the first time in Scotland, has been published today.

The Bill will entitle every adult carer in Scotland to their own support plan, with young carers receiving a similar young carer statement. These measures will set out the needs of each carer, and the help and support they are entitled to.

This means they will have a right to receive certain support from their local authority if their needs meet local eligibility criteria. The local authority will also consider whether the support should take the form of, or include, a short break.

Local eligibility criteria will be set with reference to a set of national core principles. This will ensure that consideration is given to important factors, such as making sure that carers get the right support at an early stage.

Local councils will also publish local carer strategies that will focus on identifying carers’ needs, assessing the needs which exist locally, and the availability of services.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, will visit South East Carers Centre in Glasgow today to launch the Carers Bill. He will meet young and adult carers to hear about their situation and to talk about how the Bill could help support them.

Other measures included in the Bill include the establishment of local carer advice and information centres in every local authority area.

Under this government nearly £114 million has been invested in programmes to support carers. These include £13.7 million to fund short breaks, and £28.9 million for health boards to provide direct support to carers.

Jamie Hepburn said:

“Society owes those who provide a caring role a massive debt of gratitude. We will probably never be able to do enough to truly reflect the contribution they make, but I believe that the Carers Bill is an important step towards recognising the huge contribution that carers make to their family, friends, communities, and the wider economy.

“I hope that the measures in this Bill will go some way towards allowing carers to balance their caring responsibilities with other things they want to achieve in their lives, helping them to be happier and healthier.

“We’ve made great progress in recent years. The Scottish Government has invested £13.7 million for short-breaks for carers and their loved ones, and we’ve put £28.9 million into health boards to provide for direct support for carers.

“The Carers Bill will allow us to accelerate the progress that has been made, and to ensure that the standard of support is provided consistently across the country.”

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, said:

“Carers Scotland welcomes this new legislation as a major step forward in recognising how important it is to provide support to current and future carers. As well as establishing some important new rights we are confident that the debates and consultations that will happen as the Bill progresses through the Scottish Parliament will both increase knowledge and raise the profile of the vital role Scotland’s carers play.”

Florence Burke, Director of Carers’ Trust, said:

“We are pleased to see that the Scottish Government is committed to supporting carers by introducing new legislation that will ensure carers can access support if they need it. The proposals in the Bill will go some way towards ensuring that all carers and young carers, whatever their caring role, can access the help, advice and support they desperately need. We believe that locally based carers’ centres are key to delivering this successfully and are pleased that the proposals recognise the essential contribution of these independent services.”

Don Williamson, Chief Executive of Shared Care Scotland, said:

“We’ve reached an important milestone on an ambitious journey to develop new legislation to improve the support available to carers. There are many details to be debated going forward, but it’s evident from the consultation responses that we all share a common interest in making progress. Now it’s time to focus our effort on working together to deliver the best legislation we can.”