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Carers (Scotland) Act 2016

The Scottish Government introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in March 2015 and it was passed by the Scottish Parliament in February 2016.

From 1 April 2018, the Bill will replace the current carer's assessment with a new adult carer support plan and a young carer statement for all young carers. The Bill will also:

  • Change the definition of carer so that it will encompass a greater number of carers;
  • Give local authorities a duty to prepare an adult carer support plan or young carer statement for anyone it identifies as a carer, or for any carer who requests one;
  • Give local authorities a duty to provide support to carers that meet local eligibility criteria;
  • Require local authorities and NHS boards to involve carers in the design, development and delivery of carers’ services;
  • Give local authorities and health boards a duty to prepare a joint carers strategy for their area;
  • Require local authorities to establish and maintain advice and information services for carers; and
  • Require ministers to publish a carers’ charter setting out the rights of carers under the Bill. 

Key documents:

The Scottish Government has established the Carers (Scotland) Act Implementation Steering Group with representation from the main delivery partners including local authorities, health boards, integrated joint boards, third and independent sectors, carer organisations and other stakeholders including the Care Inspectorate. The group will focus on the period leading up to the Act’s implementation in 2018 and the period immediately afterwards.

Separate Implementation Working Groups have also been set up to feed into the work of the Steering Group. These groups focus on specific parts of the Act including:

  • Adult Carer Support Plan / Young Carer Statement
  • Breaks from Caring
  • Creating Conditions for Successful Implementation
  • Eligibility Criteria
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Terminal Illness Timescales

The Scottish Government recently consulted on the Act’s draft regulations and a draft Carer’s Charter, which will outline carers’ rights under the Carers (Scotland) Act. 

A Policy Position Paper has been published by the Scottish Government.

Social Security (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government has confirmed that once social security powers are devolved to Scotland, it will begin to increase Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance. The Allowance will also be increased for carers looking after more than one disabled child.

An overall commitment to improving the experience of carers so support and advice is more accessible, under the new Scottish social security system, has also been made by Ministers. The work of the Carer Benefit Advisory Group has informed the Government's approach in this area.

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill has been introduced which will facilitate the devolution of these powers. In May 2017 it was announced that the first wave of devolved benefits to be delivered, subject to this Bill receiving Royal Assent, will be a Carer‘s Allowance supplement in Summer 2018.

Ahead of this, as part of Carers Week 2017, the Scottish Government and Young Scot launched an awareness raising campaign to ensure carers aged between 16 and 24 are claiming Carer’s Allowance.

Key documents:

The Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee is seeking views on the Bill and the impact the changes will have on claimants. In its call for evidence, the Committee asks whether the principles underpinning the devolved Scottish social security system are the right ones for those claiming support under the system. As part of the Committee’s scrutiny it will hold a workshop with witnesses who have direct experience of social security. Written evidence should be submitted by 23 August. 

In September 2017 the First Minister announced plans for a new Young Carer Grant to be awarded to carers aged between 16 and 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring per week while still at school, but do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance. Everyone receiving the Young Carer Grant will also be given a pass for free bus travel following carers’ concerns about meeting travel costs. The Grant, worth £300 a year, is part of a new package for support for young carers, which includes more entitlements and awards for 11-19 year old young carers through the Young Scot National Entitlement Card. 

The Scottish Government has published a Question and Answer factsheet to help carer organisations understand the implementation and timescales of the Carer’s Allowance. 

Self-directed Support

Self-directed support is designed to ensure people are given a range of options for how their social care is delivered, empowering people to decide how much ongoing control and responsibility they want over their own support arrangements, beyond just direct payments.  

The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 requires local authorities in Scotland to offer people four choices on how they can get their social care. Other provisions in the Act include a power to authorities to support unpaid carers and duties on authorities to give information to help them make an informed choice.

The Scottish Government has published Carer’s Assessments (Scotland) Directions 2014, to accompany the Act. The document provides guidelines for local authorities to establish the circumstances where a carer is deemed to be providing ‘substantial’ support to an individual, assessing the effects on a carer’s mental health, and taking the age of a carer into account.

A National Implementation Plan on self-directed support for 2016-18 was published by the Scottish Government following extensive consultation with stakeholders. It outlines the responsibilities and roles of national partners over the next two years to address the challenges that have been identified since SDS was implemented. The Plan also explains the range of evidence to be used in evaluating the impact of SDS.

Short Breaks

There are a range of advice and financial support initiatives for carers and young carers. The voluntary-run Short Breaks Fund is administered on behalf of the National Carers Organisations by Shared Care Scotland and the Family Fund.

Four programmes are in place, providing grants to third sector organisations and direct to families:

  • Creative Breaks offers grants to third sector organisations to develop new and existing short breaks provision with underlying principles of promoting greater choice, flexibility and personalisation of support. This programme also supports channeling of funding to carers, via local support organisations, to enable carers and people with support needs to arrange the break of their choosing.
  • Better Breaks provides grants to third sector organisations to develop additional, responsive and creative short break opportunities for disabled children, young people and their families.
  • The Take a Break initiative gives grants directly to families of disabled children and young people for personalized leisure activities or holiday breaks.
  • The Short Breaks Learning Exchange supports the sharing of good practice, information and learning across the funded projects and beyond.

Respitality projects are currently being piloted across Scotland. Hospitality providers are encouraged to become Respitality Partners by offering short breaks and respite to carers. In return, Partners increase awareness of their business and community involvement while supporting carers and young carers. 

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 includes provisions to establish a 'kinship care order' to enhance support provided to kinship carers who obtain an order under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. Eligible kinship carers will get help and advice if they apply for, or are considering applying for, a kinship care order, and will get enhanced support, when they get, or are subject to a kinship care order. 

Carer Positive Employers Kitemark

A scheme to recognise employers who give extra help and support to carers in their workforce was launched by the Scottish Government. Developed with Carers Scotland and launched to mark Carers' Week, the Carer Positive Employers Kitemark enables employers to sign up as a Carer Positive Employer in Scotland to demonstrate their commitment to supporting carers. Nearly 260,000 employees now work for 64 Carer Positive organisations in Scotland. 

Carers Parliament

The Carers Parliament is a forum for carers, young carers and carer representatives to discuss and debate matters affecting them. Organised and managed by Carers Scotland, the Carers Parliament happens annually and allows Ministers and MSPs to hear directly from delegates. The most recent Carers Parliament was held in Edinburgh in November 2016. 

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