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Councils given the go ahead to extend charges to carers in new legislation?

26 November 2012

Carer organisations in Scotland have expressed serious concerns about plans that may result in carers being charged for support they access through self directed support.

The Social Care (Self Directed Support) (Scotland) Bill is due to be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (28 November). As it stands, the Bill includes a provision which enables councils to extend charges for support to carers

Carers Scotland, the Coalition of Carers and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland (part of Carers Trust) had recommended that this provision be removed from the draft bill, but have been disappointed to learn that the government will not be backing this amendment.  

At the heart of carers’ disappointment is the failure to recognise that they are service providers who contribute more care then the health and social workforce combined and save the Scottish Government over £10billion a year.

Ann Anderson, a carer from Edinburgh and Convener of the Coalition of Carers in Scotland said:
“Carers have been recognised through Scotland’s Carers Strategy as equal partners in care who, like the paid care workforce, also need access to support, training and regular breaks. Would they think it acceptable to charge the paid care workforce for accessing this type of support? If not – why is it acceptable to charge family carers?”

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland added:
“In order to be eligible for any support carers must already be caring for a minimum of 35 hours a week.  The idea that any support provided with the aim of sustaining people in their caring role should be means tested is unfair. The idea that health board staff would need to pay to attend a course on how to lift someone safely, or local authority employees would be invoiced for taking time off in lieu, because they had earnings or savings above a certain level, would be rightly considered absurd, yet that is precisely what might happen if this legislation is not amended. The costs when carers develop physical or mental ill health through lack of support are potentially greater than when this happens in the workplace and should be addressed just as seriously.”

For many years carers have been calling on the government to strengthen carers rights, by providing them with a right to essential support, such as training and regular breaks from caring. At a time when councils are looking to make savings, the services carers rely on are particularly vulnerable to cuts.

The Self Directed Support Bill provides an opportunity to extend carers rights by placing a power on councils to provide them with access to support in their own right. However, unless the government has a change of heart and removes the provision on charging carers, as well as supporting the amendment to make it a duty for local authorities to extend direct payments to carers, this will be a missed opportunity
and a bitter disappointment for carers.

Florence Burke, the Director for Scotland for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland (part of Carers Trust), commented:
“We share the concerns of carers that MSPs are not taking this opportunity to strengthen the rights of carers through a key piece of legislation.

The Self-directed Support (Scotland) Bill brings together many important rights for people who receive support, whether they are carers or those being cared for. This is the optimum time to enshrine carers’ rights and it would be a great pity to miss it.”


ENDS


NOTES TO EDITORS:
For more information, please contact:

  • Claire Cairns, Coalition of Carers in Scotland T: 01786 825529 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland T; 0141 445 3070 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Heather Noller, Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland T: 0141 285 7936 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Bill aims to give people a wider 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. It also includes an opportunity for local councils to provide support to unpaid carers.  S16 of the Bill will give local authorities discretionary powers to charge carers for support provided under self directed support.  An amendment was proposed which the Government have indicated that they will not support.  However, they have instead said that they intend to restrict this section.  Government proposals are at present unclear and leave carers concerned that they will be charged for the support to sustain them in their caring role.  To find out more about the Bill click here.

Carers Scotland is a charity set up to support the 660,000 carers in Scotland who care for an elderly parent, sick friend or disabled family member. Caring is part of life. Three in five of us will be carers at some point in our lives. However, without the right support, the personal costs of caring can be high with many carers experiencing ill health, poverty and disadvantage. Carers Scotland helps carers and campaigns to make their lives better. Find out more at www.carerscotland.org

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland (part of Carers Trust) is the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in Scotland, reaching more than 52,000 adult carers and more than 4,300 young carers from all groups and communities through a unique network of 27 carers’ centres and 23 young carers’ services throughout Scotland. To find your nearest carers’ centre, call 0141 221 5066.  The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland also helps thousands more through interactive websites www.carers.org and www.youngcarers.net

The Coalition of Carers in Scotland is a member organisation of carers and local carer organisations that was established in 1998. The Coalition has members in every local authority in Scotland and through them it reaches and informs over 60,000 carers.  It is the Coalition’s shared vision that all Scotland’s unpaid carers will feel valued, included and supported as equal partners in the provision of care and will be able to enjoy a life outside of caring. Find out more at: www.carersnet.org

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