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Integration of services – but what about people?

Note: The following blogpost is from Lynn Williams, Policy officer in Scotland at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

Lynn Williams

Lynn Williams at work

As policy officer for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland and an unpaid carer, I have a dual interest in policies which affect unpaid carers and their families.  Having gone through social care services recently with my husband I find myself very interested in the Scottish Government’s recent announcement of plans to integrate health and social care for adults in Scotland. The initial focus will be on older people.

At the heart of this announcement is the recognition that the current set up through Community Health/Care Partnerships has not worked as well as it could have. There is also a recognition that for many families, it is easy to get lost between services e.g. during discharge from hospital – and that sometimes it’s easier for families to give up when they cannot make sense of what is out there. 

As the Scottish population gets older, social care and health services must work together more effectively. Is this announcement about saving money?  Partly, but the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has made it clear that she wants integration of health and social care to be about better services for older people and those who care for them.  See here for the official record of a recent debate on these issues

Planned legislation will create new health and social care partnerships under one accountable officer. Legislation will also create mechanisms for health and social care to integrate their budgets.  There will be a strong focus on clinicians and professionals as experts in the new set up – very important but what about unpaid carers and the expertise they have?  Already, the focus seems to be on structures, on finance, on staff roles and  it will take a lot to make integration happen.

I represented The Trust and gave evidence to the Health and Sport Committee at the Scottish Parliament this week. The Committee is undertaking a brief enquiry into integration prior to the Government publishing its plan.  

In amongst the nerves I felt in giving evidence, I hoped to make clear that whatever the plans look like, we cannot lose sight of what matters the most – the families and unpaid carers who rely on services provided by health and social care. I also emphasised the fact that integrated services will not work without taking account of the needs of Scotland’s 650,000 unpaid carers and the £10.3 billion contribution they make each year.  Unpaid carers and supporting them in their role must underpin the Government’s plans.

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March 15, 2012 Posted by | Health, Social Care | , , , , | 1 Comment

Carers’ issues a hot topic in Scottish election

Note: This is a joint blog from Lynn Williams, Fiona Collie and Claire Cairns who have been leading the National Carer Organisation Election Campaign in Scotland

We are moving into the final days of the election campaign in Scotland and the issues affecting carers and young carers have become a hot topic. Over the last few weeks carers’ organisations have worked hard to ensure that carers and young carers alike have had a chance to question candidates and influence parties’ thinking. Through the press, through on line media and face to face with candidates, carers and young carers have been heard loud and clear on what matters most to them and to their families.

This election marks a turning point for carers; every party has in some form or another directly recognised their contribution with a string of manifesto pledges made which seek to improve carers’ and young carers lives.

Claire Cairns, Fiona Collie and Lynn Williams

Launching the Carers Manifesto at the Scottish Parliament

We very much welcome specific pledges which seek to involve carers and young carers at the very heart of Government in Scotland. These commitments include Scottish Labour’s pledge to install a Cabinet level Carers’ Champion who can lead and work across all policy areas in Government. The party is also pledging to set up a Carers’ Summit to enable a Scottish Labour Government (or coalition administration involving Labour) to shape policies and decisions affecting carers’ lives (link to Labour party pledges to follow).

The SNP have pledged to deliver an annual Carers’ Parliament to give carers and young carers a direct say in the work of the Government and the Scottish Parliament. http://manifesto.votesnp.com/carers.

If realised, any one of these commitments will give carers and young carers a voice in shaping decisions that affect their lives at the highest levels of Government.

Other parties such as the Scottish Lib Dems are looking to extend the rights that carers have and improve local service delivery. http://www.scotlibdems.org.uk/files/SLD2011manifesto.pdf.

Labour join the Lib Dems in pledging to investigate a right to respite for carers. http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/uploads/938e3455-1814-0b84-e115-8ddec3a327b5.pdf

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have costed a substantial investment in additional respite and many of the smaller parties have made a range of commitments to carers. http://www.scottishconservatives.com/downloads/scottish-conservative-manifesto-2011.pdf

Carers’ issues are indeed one of this election’s hot topics. But one commentator in the press recently said that manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on – and that might well be the case.

But as part of Scotland’s Carers Organisations we are making our own pledge to you – that we will work together tirelessly to bring parties to account whether in Government or opposition on the pledges they have made. We will continue to work directly with Ministers and MSPs in opposition to build on what has already been achieved for Scotland’s carers; we are also already planning for the Scottish Local Elections next year – service delivery locally is a key concern.

So there is much to look forward to and much still to do. Please continue to work with us to help make the lives of Scotland’s carers and young carers the best that they can be – to ensure that their contribution is truly recognised. Our Scottish Carers’ Manifesto – shaped by carers and young carers – will continue to be the basis for our campaigning work at national and local level. You can also continue to have your say on our ‘Carers Votes Count’ Facebook pages.

To the 5th May and beyond!!

Lynn, Claire and Fiona On behalf of Scotland’s National Carer Organisations

May 2, 2011 Posted by | General Election, Scotland | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carer Votes Count in Scotland

Note: The following blog post has been written by Lynn Williams, the Policy Officer (Scotland) for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

So a few weeks into the election campaign in Scotland and already the issues affecting Scotland’s 657,000 unpaid

MSPs pledging support for carers

carers have featured in most party manifestos as well as in the press. The BBC “Big Debate” on Living Longer had carers in the audience – Caroline gave a very moving insight into her journey as a carer for her parents.  The launch of specific manifesto pledges for unpaid carers by the SNP at the Glasgow South East Carer Centre also picked up some coverage.

Before looking at what parties are committing to (and we know that a commitment doesn’t necessarily mean that something will actually happen!) it’s important to review where we are first.

Over the last four years, political parties have delivered a lot of warm words about the contribution of unpaid carers – and young carers.  There have been some policy gains in the last four years around additional investment in respite, funding which has benefitted the work of carers’ organisations, and the publication of the new Carers and Young Carers’ Strategies in Scotland. So, some good news.

What is becoming increasingly clear however – from contacts on Facebook (See our Carers Votes Count Facebook pages;  from feedback from Carers Centres who are on the frontline and from colleagues in other carers’ organisations is that unpaid carers and their families and are at the hard end of local cuts. The campaign pages for Scotland ACT Now for Autism provide stories from across the country and parent- carers open their hearts about the daily fights they endure for their children.

This is before we even get to the impact of the welfare reform agenda coming from Westminster to a town or city near you. So from the perspective of Scotland’s carers and from the perspective of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers – warm words are fine; promises are fine – but it’s now time for action.

So what are the parties actually saying? We have published summaries of the four main Scottish parties’ manifestos and the pledges that they have made.

So what does this all mean?

The answer is – not a lot. But manifestos give some indication of the level of commitment to unpaid carer and young carers. They can also help carers to decide who to vote for especially if they remain undecided.

What happens after the election is more important – what commitments actually become reality and do they make any REAL difference to the lives of carers such as Clare Lally, Sandra Webster, Teresa Catto Smith and others who are regularly posting on our election Facebook pages – Carers Votes Count.  Their stories tell us that the political parties still have a long way to go.

A number of carers have told us that they remain undecided as to how to vote and that they want to see specific pledges which will help improve their lives.  There may well indeed be up to 657,000 votes up for grabs! Therefore, until the next election blog, please continue to lobby your candidates, attend any local hustings events and please contact us here or via Facebook with the issues that affect you as carers or young carers in Scotland.

Lynn

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Benefits, breaks for carers, Budget, Carers movement, Carers Strategy, General Election, Scotland | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preventing Crisis for Scotland’s Carers – So where do we go next?

Note: This is the final of the three-part blog post by Lynn Williams, the Policy Officer for Scotland at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

Well, for an initial investment of just £1 million, this project directly supported over 3,000 unpaid carers – it would cost at least £30 million to replace the care they provide if they remained unsupported in their caring role.  That’s a pretty significant return on the initial investment. To top that, the support workers trained and worked directly with some 4,000 health and social care professionals.  Bear in mind that the budget for NHS Education Scotland sits at just under £400 million alone.

The project recommendations highlight the need for more effective working between health and social care and unpaid carers are the lynchpin of the overall support and service delivery infrastructure.  We have been fighting for political parties to recognise and deliver clear policy commitments which ensure unpaid carers are recognised and better supported and there is no doubt that the Moffat work will help us demonstrate the value of doing this.

The £70 million Change Fund outlined in the draft budget could be used to drive real change in discharge planning and in improving how professionals and services are planned and delivered.  It will be focussed on helping health and social care services work together to maximise people’s independence and wellbeing.  Those involved in planning how this Fund will be spent – in a year – could begin by looking at the outcomes of the Moffat project and the impact that dedicated carer support workers had at local level.

And yet, recent press coverage in the Herald suggests that things will go backwards rather than forwards. Local authority plans may well decimate social care and carer support services in Scotland. How shortsighted – and in the long run, this will be far more costly for statutory services. Any permanent benefit and changes in working practices which Moffat achieved may well be undone.

Unpaid carers have been there when paid care workers couldn’t get to their clients; they continue to provide care no matter what the weather. Small investments such as the £1 million invested in the infrastructure by the Moffat Charitable Trust can make a huge difference and save money in these tough times.  That’s a message we will ask all politicians to take on board in the coming months.

To all carers and families out there, seasons greetings and all the very best for 2011.

Lynn

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Benefits, Budget, Carers Strategy, Scotland | , , , , | Leave a comment

Preventing Crisis for Scotland’s Carers – The Answer in the Moffat Report

Note: This is the second of a three-part blog post by Lynn Williams, the Policy Officer in the Glasgow office at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. The first part of the blog post talked about the changing weather and the problems for Scotland carers.

And this is where the lessons from the Moffat project come in.  Funded through a gift from the Moffat Charitable Trust, the project involved The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Carers’ Centres in Lothians and the Borders, Glasgow, and East Ayrshire working in partnership to improve the situation described above.  With hugely ambitious aims, Support Workers who were part of Carers’ Centre teams, set out to identify carers as early as possible in their caring journey; to help them connect to key services and to get support which maintained their own health and wellbeing. They also worked to ensure that carers were involved in discharge planning.

An independent evaluation of this work by Glasgow Caledonian University highlights the benefits of early identification and specific support provided to unpaid carers. The work carried out helped to vastly increase professionals’ awareness of unpaid carers and their need to involve carers in discharge planning and processes.

Over 3,000 new carers were identified – including an 85 year old man who provides care for his 100 year old sister.   This substantial figure also included a 49 year old woman who was left to run the family business after her husband had a stroke.  As a result of the direct involvement and input of carer support workers, carers reported that agencies worked better together; carers were assessed in their own right; they were also helped to access benefits and grants to minimise the financial impact of caring. Carers reported that health professionals increasingly recognised their contribution and expertise and increasingly understood that carers themselves need support in their own right.

Over 4000 health and social carer professionals received training and worked with carer support staff to improve support mechanisms for unpaid carers.

The impact of having dedicated carer support workers based in hospitals working with health care professionals and unpaid carers in health settings has been recognised in some of the project areas;  continuation funding in the Borders, Lothians and Ayrshire mean that the partnerships, referral pathways and improved joint working will not be lost. As we look ahead to next year’s Draft Scottish budget, a further £5 million has been allocated to support Carer Information Strategy activity – we would strongly argue that it should be allocated for the type of work which the Moffat workers delivered.

Carers Centres involved in the project have seen the benefits and challenges of improved local partnerships.  The challenges include massively increased demand for support with standstill budgets and increasing costs.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Benefits, Health, Scotland | , , | 1 Comment

Preventing Crisis for Scotland’s Carers

Note: This is the first of a three-part blog post from Lynn Williams the Policy Officer at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. The blog post talks about a recently published Moffat Report, its need and its findings.

So the awful cold weather continues, and the country prepares for the next onslaught of snow and arctic weather.

Yet in homes across the country, unpaid carers continue to provide support to family members despite the cold weather – they battle ice and frost to get out to buy food and to get their loved ones to hospital and doctor’s appointments; they keep the heating on because the person they look after needs to keep warm; they do what they can to ensure the person they support has the best quality of life possible even when mother nature works against them!!

Throughout the political ‘fallout’ over the Government’s response to last week’s chaos, there was very little recognition or acknowledgement of the wider impact of this awful weather on families and unpaid carers.

What it means is that many of the people who could not live without unpaid care are more likely to go into hospital.  Carers may be thrust into an intensive caring role for the first time as family members are hospitalised. Cold weather brings more falls, breaks, ill health; it can exacerbate long term conditions. That creates new carers and puts increased pressure on existing unpaid carers and young carers.

Despite government commitments, policies and strategies, the support that unpaid carers themselves receive in these situations remains a real postcode lottery. Disconnections between hospital and community care still exist; planning for discharge once a loved one gets better is pretty much hit and miss and the chances of the main carer being involved in that process are non existent in some areas. The current and impending cuts in social care services will only make this situation worse.

…Keep a look out for Part II of this blog post “The answer in the Moffat report”…

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Benefits, Scotland, Social Care | , , , , | 1 Comment

Scottish Party Conferences and Carers

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

***

After the Conferences…Well, the Scottish Party Conference season is over (a big ‘phew’ from me!!) and we take our first steps on the road to the Scottish Budget and Election 2011.

So what happened and how did carers fare?

The answer is not very well…so far.  Political parties in Scotland are only beginning to make policy announcements.   Carers were mentioned by the Scottish Labour Party.

Tasneem and Brenda – two carers from Glasgow who spoke at the recent Cross Party Group

The Scottish Lib Dems have included a commitment to carers in their pre manifesto document and we are continuing to work with their manifesto team to ensure that carers are fully recognised.

The SNP did not make any policy commitments about carers at their conference but a recent meeting with the SNP manifesto team generated some interesting ideas to benefit unpaid carers and young carers.  This includes looking at ways in which carers might be better supported in employment.  Also, a meeting with the Scottish Conservative shadow health team last month was productive and positive.

It’s too early to say at this stage if and how carers will be recognised in each party’s manifesto, but we continue to work with all the parties to ensure this happens.

So we look ahead to the budget and beyond to next May’s election….

A National Care Service?

Influencing party manifestos is all well and good, but it is what happens beyond the election that matters. 

If Labour gets into power next year, the new government will seek to introduce a National Care Service within the lifetime of the next Parliament (2011 – 2015). The aim in doing so would be to end the postcode lottery of social care provision, bringing together health and social care so that “no-one falls through the gaps” and that the focus is “on the person needing care.”

Did I miss the word carer in there somewhere?  Yes, I think I did.

Whilst no one would argue against the laudable aim of tackling the complicated infrastructure of support and the disconnect that exists between health and social care, is a NATIONAL service the way to do it?

As I lie awake at 4am in the morning (something which I do quite often) I have been thinking about this proposal:

  • Will it tackle the existing gaps and overlaps in existing provision?
  • Will it offer more effective recognition and support of carers?
  • Would the service lead to more effective working between the NHS and social care provision in Scotland.

Scotland is a small enough country to enable a national service to work; but, it’s hard to say anything concrete about this proposal without any more detail. And whatever form it takes, it cannot work without placing unpaid carers and young carers at its heart.  I think there is a missing link here….

Another point to make – “national” is not always better. It can be less quick to respond and the needs of the individual can be lost; it can be bureaucratic; it can also be more costly as layers of delivery and management develop over time. 

The last thing that concerns me is timescale – Mr. Gray and Ms. Baillie committed to delivering the new service during the lifetime of the next Parliament.  Whatever the benefits, opportunities – and challenges – of this proposal, the creation of a National Care Service won’t happen quickly enough to help carers now as they experience local cuts to services and changing eligibility criteria for respite and short breaks. It won’t happen quickly enough for local Carers’ Centres who are already struggling to meet massively increased demand on standstill budgets.

Another issue relates to social care procurement and plans within Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities to look at merging specific functions such as social care.  Should this go ahead, there would be substantial impact on a significant number of carers and their families.  But bigger still, the national care service would, I guess, have a significant procurement role.  Would the focus be on quality or cost?  How would that benefits the lives of carers in Scotland? 

The Budget, Elections and Beyond….

So we move towards publication of the Scottish Budget later this month.  This will determine the public sector landscape and how services will be delivered both nationally and locally – no matter which party wins power next year.

We intend to put out a final ‘plea’ to MSPs prior to ensure that they support recognition of carers and young carers within the budget, and to ask them to put pressure on the Minister and Mr Swinney to continue Carer Information Strategy funds continue beyond 2011.  We will also ask that the existing Government places a requirement on health boards to work with carer organisations to take any future funding forward and that Centres benefit directly from this – they are best place to deliver services which benefit carers and young carers.

Even if this funding stream continues (and that would be extremely welcome) it does not guarantee sustainable funding for carer support and Carers’ Centres from 2011. The early stage plans to merge social care provision and other functions across a number of local authorities in the west of Scotland would likely have an impact on funding for Carers Centres.

So, now, more than ever, Carers Centres and the carers they support need to be vocal and visible and demonstrate the economic and social impact of reducing or stopping funding for carer support.  An example has been set – a Conservative controlled local authority in Greater London has recently awarded the local Carers Centre a seven year contract to deliver services because of its unique and effective offering.  That should be the model we aspire to.  If a Conservative local authority can do it, so can others.

All political parties in Scotland say they are committed to unpaid carers and young carers.  No doubt, each party’s manifesto will make a commitment to support them. Warm words at this point.  Carers who spoke at the recent Cross Party Group highlighted the continuing challenges they face for recognition.  We launched the Scottish Carers Manifesto at that event and its banner says ‘No more talk…. Action now”. That is the message we want every MSP and prospective parliamentary candidate to take to heart. There are tens of thousands of carers in your constituency and regions – that’s a lot of votes. In what is likely to be the tightest election since devolution, carers and first time voters who are young carers could help you win your constituency or regional seat.

Next time…

There is more happening at a national level around closer working between health and social care. This relates to the “Reshaping Care for the Elderly” agenda. Once we have more detail we will keep you posted.

For now, take care and please let me know what is happening with social care provision in your area.  Have cuts started to affect you?  Please contact me or use our Facebook pages to let us know the types of issues that you would like us to raise with MSPs.

Lynn

November 10, 2010 Posted by | Benefits, Budget, Carers Strategy, Conservatives, David Cameron, Health, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Party Conferences, Scotland, Social Care, Young carers | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

***

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

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, Scotland, Uncategorized, Young carers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carers issues feature in leaders debate for a second time

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg

The Liberal Democrats plan to give a week of respite to those who care for 50 hours or more per week

Watching the Leaders’ Debate on Sky News last night, the needs of carers again featured strongly – as well as issues which impact on carers’ lives like pensions which obviously effect the financial well being of older carers.

And again respite breaks were discussed. We’re all aware that having a break from caring is one of the key needs expressed by Scotland’s unpaid carers. Indeed it is a key recommendation in Care 21.

As a carer myself, I appreciate the need to ‘get away’ from caring – that might mean having a couple of hours of ‘me time’ with a friend, being at the hairdressers – it doesn’t always mean having a week away – or indeed the person you care for having time away from the home environment.

A short break can be so many things – something which I think political parties have missed in the ongoing debate around carers as we move towards this exciting General Election.

There is still a real need – and gap – in terms of social services and other key professionals involving carers in planning services for those they care for. For carers, a Carers’ Assessment does not always lead to them getting the support they need, at the time they need it – and that includes having access to a short break. A break can range from simply being able to leave the house to do things which others take for granted, right through to a full holiday.

The needs of unpaid carers are featuring in this election – and leaders are listening. We welcome developments such as the commitment by the Liberal Democrats to give a week of respite to those who care for 50 hours or more per week.

But my plea to Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, David Cameron – and Alex Salmond – is please listen harder. Work with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, with the network of Carers’ Centres and organisations such as Shared Care Scotland to create and develop new and responsive opportunities to have a break from caring – with carers as equal partners in this process.

And above all, please keep asking questions of your local candidates – find out where they stand on these issues. The voice of carers needs to be loud and clear.

Take care,

Lynn

April 23, 2010 Posted by | General Election | , , , , , | 2 Comments

What does the General Election mean for carers in Scotland?

Map of Scotland showing which party holds each constituency

What will the election mean for Scotland’s 657,000 carers and 100,000 young carers?

Well the starter pistol was sounded by Gordon Brown on Tuesday and we’ve begun the race to the the General Election on 6th May.

Never before have carer issues been so central to an election – with the three main parties and media picking up on funding for social care and respite issues in recent months.

But what does this all mean for Scotland’s 657,000 carers and 100,000 young carers.

First, whilst many of the issues you will hear being discussed may not seem to directly impact on Scotland, funding for things like social care and health come to Scotland via the Treasury’s funding.

Second, any future cuts to public spending will impact on Scotland through the Barnett Formula and this will impact on what the Scottish Government has to spend, and in turn, what local authorities will have in their coffers from next year onwards. The Concordat between Scottish and local government has changed how money is allocated to local authorities and how local authorities then spend this.

This all means that we need to make sure that the needs of unpaid carers remain high on the campaign agenda both during and after this General Election. Whichever political party wins, we can expect unpaid carers in Scotland to be affected by the work of the new UK Government both directly, through any proposed changes to welfare benefits for example, and indirectly via the Treasury’s settlement for the Scottish Budget.

Contact your local party representative to ask what they will do to ensure unpaid carers are supported in their role and have a life outside of caring. Ask them to explain their party’s plans for social care and health. Ask them to campaign for increases to Carers’ Allowance and to ensure that Cold Weather and Winter Fuel payments take account of unpaid carers.

In Scotland, we will continue to work with all political parties to ensure unpaid carers are a high political priority and that this is reflected as the Scottish Government moves to set its budget for 2011 onwards.

And use your vote! If you can’t get out of the house, you can get a postal vote. Like Gordon said in March, your vote matters and your vote as a carer means that the voice of carers in Scotland is heard loud and clear during the election.

As a carer myself, I will certainly be at my local polling station first thing on 6th May…

Take care,

Lynn

PS, The BBC have put together a really handy map that lets you explore all 650 UK constituencies that are up for grabs in May.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | General Election | , , | Leave a comment