Avid followers of the blog will remember that a previous blog post considered the dearth of support for carers and the launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on improving such support. The Government has now introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament with the bold aim of “extending and enhancing the rights of both adult and young carers in Scotland”.
With that aim in mind, some of the key provisions involve:
- replacing the current carer‘s assessment with a new adult carer support plan (ACSP) and providing a young carer statement (YCS) for all young carers;
- providing for the establishment of an information and advice service for carers in each local authority area which must include a short breaks services statement;
- introducing a duty to support carers whose needs cannot be met by general services in the community (including the information and advice service). The carer‘s needs must meet local eligibility criteria in order for the duty to apply;
- requiring local authorities, in determining which support to provide carers, to consider in particular whether the support should take the form of, or include, a break from caring;
- requiring local authorities to prepare local carer strategies for their areas; and
- requiring local authorities and health boards to involve carers in carer services meaning services provided by the local authority or health board to carers and cared-for persons.
A recurring feature of the Bill is the increased demand placed upon local authorities to provide support to carers in their local area. A primary concern for local authorities will be the introduction of the duty to provide support to carers where a carer has needs which cannot be met by services or assistance already generally provided.
Needs eligible for support are:
- needs which meet local eligibility criteria; or,
- needs which meet national eligibility criteria.
Where the needs meet these criteria the local authority must provide support to carers. The local authority will set the local eligibility criteria but the Scottish Ministers retain a power to set the national eligibility criteria.
The Bill generally seeks to improve the support available for carers and to provide a legislative basis for carers to seek support. There is an emphasis upon provision of support by local authorities which will have financial implications and raise the possibility of legal proceedings where a carer is aggrieved by a decision of a local authority. There will be many considerations for local authorities, carers and other stakeholders in relation to the finer detail of the duty and other provisions.
The Bill is still at Stage 1 (of three) of the parliamentary process and will need to face the Parliament for a vote on the general principles before proceeding further. For any of our readers seeking to input into the parliamentary process, our public law team is on hand to assist in parliamentary liaison and monitoring.
On May 29, 2015