Limited respite from Scottish Government

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has condemned the Scottish Government for breaking its promise to carers to provide an additional 10,000 weeks of respite care per year – with the Minister now asking MSPs to try to lobby local authorities on her behalf.

In the Falkirk Council area, there was a small rise in the total number of respite weeks in 2008/09 – 3,330 compared to 3,250 the previous year. The total for Scotland rose by 1,150 – well below the necessary increase to meet the manifesto commitment.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy asked the Scottish Government what action it would take to ensure that the carers and young carers strategy achieved its stated aim of “rapid, significant and sustainable” improvements in carer support.

The Minister for Public Health and Sport (Shona Robison) was “disappointed at the extent to which significant reductions in provision in a few council areas have offset the good progress that has been made by others.”

Cathy Peattie said “Given the feeble and patchy progress towards the manifesto commitment to provide an additional 10,000 weeks of respite care, is the minister aware that many carers report problems, such as having been made to jump through hoops to access respite care? Some carers get little or nothing at all, and some carers tell me that they have never had a week’s family holiday. What will the minister do to ensure that the money allocated by the Scottish Government to meet the needs of carers is used for that purpose?”

Accepting that more needed to be done, the Minister said that “in partnership with COSLA, the Government is developing a carers and young carers strategy” which recognises the need for short breaks, and that COSLA leaders understand that, “although ring fencing no longer exists, the £4 million that was allocated—which applies not to the 2,000 weeks but to the next set of figures—was intended for respite provision.”

The Minister then urged MSPs to raise the issue with their local authorities.

Speaking later, Cathy said that the response was disappointing.

“The need for respite care is well recognised – we need a strategy to provide that care, not merely recognise the need for it. Having abandoned its responsibility to deliver on its promises, the Government’s only answer now is to tell MSPs to lobby local government. If councils won’t listen to the Scottish Government, then what chance do individual MSPs have?

“The more I think about the Minister’s response, the more incredible it seems. Scottish democracy apparently now consists of the Scottish Government asking MSPs to lobby local authorities to do the things that that the Scottish Government promised but cannot deliver.”

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