The law relating to carers differs across the UK. The Scottish Parliament has responsibility for health, the NHS and social care, so most of the legislation which affects carers in Scotland is discussed in the Scottish Parliament. The Equality Act 2010, laws around flexible working for carers, and legislation relating to benefits for carers is UK-wide and so is also applicable to carers in Scotland.
There is also a specific piece of legislation for carers introduced in early 2015. The Carers (Scotland) Bill will consolidate existing rights from other pieces of legislation as well as enshrining new rights for carers in law. Like all Scottish legislation it will go through a three-stage process, allowing for debate and discussion in committees, evidence to be gathered and amendments to be made. This allows opportunities for the Bill to be further strengthened and we will be working closely with the Scottish Government, MSPs and other decision-makers, carers and Network Partners to make sure the Bill can make a real difference for carers and carers’ services.
- A strategy for carers
- Carers Rights Charter
- Self-directed support
- Integration of health and social care
- A Carers’ Bill for Scotland
Scotland has a Carers’ Strategy. Caring Together: The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-2015 is a framework for policy and legislation development in Scotland and has driven the development of a range of projects and initiatives that aim to improve the lives of Scotland’s carers, ensure that organisations and services are able to support carers and recognise them as equal partners in care, and support carers to have a life outside of caring and to care with confidence.
As set out in the Carers’ Strategy, Carers Scotland and the Minority Ethnic Carers Project (MECOPP) have been commissioned by the Scottish Government to develop a Carers Rights Charter. Consultation on the Charter took place in 2013 with carers and carers’ organisations, and the final Charter of Rights will be launched in conjunction with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in 2014.
Legislation on Self-directed support (SDS) was passed in 2012. The Social Care (Self-directed support) (Scotland) Act 2013 ensures that all individuals and families who receive social care support (including carers) have choice and control over how this support is delivered, by being offered different options on how they take the support.
Carers can help the person they look after to manage these support options, or if carers are receiving a support service in their own right, they are also entitled to options when getting support.
Carers Trust Scotland has produced a guide for carers on SDS. The Scottish Government’s SDS website also gives more detailed information on SDS options, how SDS works in practice, and examples and case studies of SDS users.
The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act came into force in 2014 and legislates for health boards and local authorities to integrate budgets and services and to ensure that health and social care provision across Scotland is joined-up and seamless, especially for people with long term conditions and disabilities and their carers.
The legislation and the regulations and guidance that accompany it support the arrangements for integrating health and social care, in order to improve outcomes for patients, service users, carers and their families. This will enable health boards and local authorities to work together effectively to deliver quality, sustainable care services.
Carers and service users are supported to be involved and make decisions about services in their areas, with consultation required when integration schemes are being developed, when strategic plans are being developed and reviewed, and at any other time when a decision might significantly affect the provision of services in an area.
Since the consultation stage of the Act, we have been calling for carers and service users to be involved in a supported and meaningful way so that their participation is as valuable as possible.
In October 2013, at the second Carers’ Parliament, Alex Salmond announced the Scottish Government’s intention to legislate for carers before the Scottish General Election in 2016.
A consultation on the proposals for a Carers’ Bill ran from January 2014 to April 2014 and examined the possibilities to introduce further duties for statutory bodies, and new rights and entitlements for unpaid carers.
All aspects of the carer journey were consulted on, from identification and assessment through to service provision, carer involvement and service review. Young carers were also explicitly included in these legislative proposals.
The Carers (Scotland) Bill was launched on 9 March 2015 and will consolidate existing rights from other pieces of legislation as well as enshrining new rights for carers in law. Like all Scottish legislation it will go through a three-stage process, allowing for debate and discussion in committees, evidence to be gathered and amendments to be made. This allows opportunities for the Bill to be further strengthened and we will be working closely with the Scottish Government, MSPs and other decision-makers, carers and Network Partners to make sure the Bill can make a real difference for carers and carers’ services.
The Bill sets out a range of measures to improve identification and support to carers, including the introduction of a new duty on local authorities to support carers who meet certain eligibility criteria.. This is a big change from the current system where local authorities have a power to support carers if they choose to.
Regulations that are part of the Social Care (Self-directed support) (Scotland) Act 2013 prevent carers from being charged for social care services that they have been assessed as needing to be provided to them in order to support them to provide care. This includes (but is not limited to)
- the provision of information and advice
- advocacy for carers and young carers
- emotional support and counselling
- training for carers and young carers
- support with housework or gardening or other similar activity
- cost of taxi fares and driving lessons in special circumstances
- short breaks
- translation and interpretation services.
Most services are provided following the identification of need through a Carer’s Assessment. If the carer is not eligible for a Carer’s Assessment, because he or she does not carry out a substantial amount of care on a regular basis, then local authorities have the discretion to provide support to the carer without an assessment having been carried out. Charges should also be waived in this situation.
There are some limitations to waiving of charges around short breaks, driving lessons and taxi fares, and household tasks. The briefing below goes into greater detail about these limitations and the impact on carers who are receiving these kinds of services and support.
This right of carers not to be charged for support applies to services provided to both adult carers and to young carers for services provided under the Social Care (Self-directed support) (Scotland) Act 2013 and under S22 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.