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Carers Strategy Launch in Scotland

Note: The following post has been contributed by Lynn Williams, the Policy Officer for Scotland at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

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Well, we finally reached an important landmark on Monday 26th July, with the publication of “Caring Together”, the new Carers Strategy for Scotland, and “Getting it Right for Young Carers” the UK’s first separate Young Carers’ Strategy.

As we move into one of the most difficult financial periods for decades the Scottish Government has allocated approximately £5.5 million to the Carers and Young Carers’ Strategies – and all of this will go to the voluntary sector. £5 million will be focused on developing and expanding innovative respite and short break services for unpaid carers and young carers.

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has been directly involved in helping to shape the content and actions of both documents.

Key highlights include:

  1. Creating a Carers Rights Charter – the Government is also consulting on legislating for carers to have access to Direct Payments in their own right.
  2. Investing in carers training, building on an existing £281,000 investment during this financial year.
  3. Improving the identification of carers by health and social care services
  4. Making carers’ own health and wellbeing a priority
  5. Promoting carer-friendly employment practices and encouraging income maximisation
  6. In a Scottish and UK first, it includes a separate strategy on young carers – “Getting it Right for Young Carers”. This includes a range of actions which will help professionals from a range of agencies to better identify and support young carers to achieve their full potential.
  7. An investment of £150,000 to The Trust to develop a 4th Scottish Young Carers’ Festival in 2011, which will help review progress in implementing “Getting it Right for Young Carers”.

Carers and young carers in Scotland will directly benefit from the welcome additional investment in a range of ways, demonstrating the Minister for Public Health’s commitment to carer and young carers’ issues in Scotland.

As a carer going through our own crisis situation at home, I know how hard we will all need to work to ensure that both documents are fully implemented. Much still needs to be done, and the strategies are a brilliant starting point.

We retain some concerns about what happens now that the strategies have been published:

  • The need to ensure that sustainable funding is in place for Carers’ Centres and young carers’ projects. They continue to experience a substantial increase in demand for support in their local areas, but in many cases, with no increase in funding to deal with this.
  • The Concordat between local and national government which means that there is no compulsion on local authorities to implement the strategy documents.
  • As we move toward unprecedented public sector cuts, the strategies make a clear case for investing in support for Scotland’s 657,000 carers and 100,000 young carers. However, the fact is that carers and young carers are still an easy target when cuts are being sought – recent developments at Westminster in relation to benefits and feedback from local areas in Scotland demonstrate this.

It is vital that an implementation plan is put in place as quickly as possible with all key players ‘signed up’ to take things forward. The Trust has a key role to play in this.

Carers’ Centres and carers can also use the documents at local level to hold councils, health boards, Community Health Partnerships and others accountable. How are they implementing the documents; what actions are they taking locally to improve carer support; what are local authorities doing with other partners to ensure that young carers have the chance to be children and young people first?

So, we are on the next stage of the journey – and we are under no illusion about the challenges which lie ahead in implementing both the vision and actions within each document. We would urge carers to speak to their local MSPs to ensure they are supporting and pressing for the strategies to be implemented. Meet with your local Councillors to ask how local authorities will take the strategies forward.

We will also be working with Carers’ Centres to ensure that decision makers are fully aware of the brilliant work that they do, how this benefits carers and what carers and young carers need to enjoy a quality life in their own right.

Keep campaigning!

Lynn

Note:

The Independent Budget Review report was published yesterday (29th July). Lead by Crawford Beveridge, it outlines that no part of public sector spending should be exempt from cuts. John Swinney has invited all political parties to look at the findings and the options for Scotland’s budget in future. Members of the public have been asked to contribute ideas about public spending. Please take some time to submit ideas and highlight the importance of maintaining funding for carer support.

See below for more information:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/IndependentBudgetReview

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2010/07/29082429

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July 30, 2010 - Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, Scotland, Uncategorized, Young carers | , , , , , , ,

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