Carers in Scotland win new rights
The Carers bill is passed unanimously by MSPs, giving unpaid carers a right to demand support, but concerns over costs remain
People who care for someone sick, elderly or disabled have been awarded new rights by the Scottish Parliament.
Last night MSPs unanimously backed the Scottish Government’s Carers Bill, which widens the definition of carer and sets duties on councils to support carers with information and advice.
There are concerns about whether the costs of implementing the plans have been underestimated.
Carers will now 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.
Health improvement minister Jamie Hepburn said the range of new rights would help improve the health and wellbeing of carers by allowing them to have a life alongside caring.
"In the weeks and months ahead there will be a significant effort required to ensure that we, with care interests including carers and their representative organisations, pave the way for commencement of the bill in 2017/18. There will be challenges ahead,” he said.
Scotland may have as many as 745,000 adult and 44,000 young carers, and is thought there may be many carers who don’t realise they are one.
Labour said the funding allocated to the plans was “woefully inadequate.”
Last year the Health and Sport Committee warned the cost of implementing the legislation may be so much it may not meet its aims, and yesterday in the chamber Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, who sits on the committee, said her party had “concerns” about the bill.
“The greatest of these is the funding allocated to the bill. It's woefully inadequate.
“We're really concerned that this bill, while offering hope on one hand, will not deliver because of the lack of funding.
“Local councils are facing half a billion cuts to their budget this year and they are being forced to cut support rather than increase it,” she said.
A report for Carers Scotland in November revealed carers save the public purse £10.8bn a year in care services.
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