Carers’ Rights

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called for support for a new Manifesto produced by carers organisations.

Cathy with carers at Cross Party Group meeting

“Carers need support to carry on caring. Carers organisations and support centres are crucial to that support, yet what is already an underfunded sector is subject to more pressure in the current financial climate.”

Cathy is the Convener of the Cross Party Group on Carers, which met on Wednesday 27th October to launch the manifesto in the Scottish Parliament. On Thursday, Cathy spoke in the Scottish Parliament debate on Carers, telling MSPs that the Manifesto called for just over £11 million to sustain essential support for carers.

“That is just £14.66 per carer for a year, yet funding for all the essential activities is now under threat from cuts. I do not just mean the cuts that are to come, because cuts are already biting. Carers centres have had their budgets cut or frozen and sometimes that has been going on for several years. They are forced to devote precious time to preparing contract tenders for services that they provide, which squeezes what they can do and creates uncertainty and causes disruption.

“We must ask what the costs are of not supporting carers. One fifth of carers say that, if they had more support, the people whom they care for could be kept out of hospital. As I said, the health of carers suffers—two fifths have not had a break of longer than two days. Carers are aware of the economic difficulties that we face. They know that times are hard, but they also know that the failure to recognise their situation, contribution and needs will make it harder for all of us. Cutting back on support for carers will put pressure on health and other services and, in the longer term, will impede our economic recovery.

“I welcome the carers manifesto, which outlines the importance of carers and actions that improve carers’ lives. We need to implement the action points in the young carers strategy and ensure the sustainability of services that are dedicated to young carers. We need a carers’ rights charter and we need to fund carers and their organisations. Most of all, we need to listen to carers and provide them with the support that they are asking for on training, work, flexibility for those who work, regular breaks and an opportunity for life outside their caring.”

The manifesto for carers’ rights says Scotland’s carers need support to help them in their caring role, regular breaks and a life outside of caring. Scotland’s young carers, it states, should have the right to be children and young people first, have the same opportunities as their peers and reach their full potential.

Carers – the facts:

  • There are almost 660,000 carers in Scotland (1 in 8 of the population) – more than the total health and social care workforce.
  • Replacing the care provided by carers and young carers would cost £7.68 billion a year.
  • Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind – full time carers receive only £53.90 a week, less than £1 an hour.
  • The oldest carer is over 100 years old and the youngest is just three years old — one of an estimated 100,000 young carers.
  • One in five give up jobs and career opportunities to look after loved ones.
    On average, carers lose £11,000 a year through having to give up their work and some 75 per cent are in fuel poverty.
  • This year, the Scottish Government will spend £281,000 on carer training. NHS training, by comparison, receives well over a thousand times that amount.
  • Many carers devote long hours to caring—115,000 carers devote more than 50 hours a week and 21 per cent of young carers devote more than 30 hours a week.
  • Eighty per cent of carers have been forced to give up leisure activities because of their caring and three quarters have lost touch with members of their family and friends.
  • Half of those who provide intensive care have been treated for anxiety, depression or mental health issues.

Cathy’s speech in parliament: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-10/sor1028-02.htm#Col29801

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