Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called on the Scottish Government to do more to support carers.
Cathy, who is the Convener of the Cross Party Group on Carers, spoke about the difficulties faced by carers dealing with bureaucracy and the costs that they face for respite charges, heating and travel to access health and other services.
- Penalising Working Carers
Reminding the Minister that the Executive policy was that “carers should not be adversely affected as a result of their caring role”, Cathy highlighted local authorities which “are now considering assessing, or are beginning to assess, the income of parent carers when considering the services that it will provide to a disabled young person aged 18 or under.”
“Transport is a problem for many. It is costly, if it is available. People who cannot travel on their own are entitled to be accompanied by a companion, but only on buses, whereas the blind persons scheme permits a companion to travel also on rail and ferry journeys. Anyone who needs to be accompanied by a companion should be allowed that. Of course, not everyone has access to public transport. Services are sometimes not suitable and in some areas do not exist. Private transport is expensive and unpaid carers rarely have big incomes because many must give up work to provide care. Demand-responsive community transport can provide much-needed services and should be included in the national concessionary travel scheme.
- Respite Care
“Respite care is in short supply. The Government is committed to providing an additional 10,000 weeks of respite care, but thanks to the concordat, the commitment is reliant on the good will of councils. To their credit, some councils are providing respite care, but others are not—or have different ideas about how the weeks should be counted.
“It would cost a lot to pay carers from the public purse for the services that they provide. Through their unpaid work, they make a major contribution to the economy, which we should recognise by ensuring that the support and services they can access are as good as possible, right across the sectors. We need to recognise carers’ needs in our health service by providing decent breaks and respite care. We must also provide adequate benefits, in recognition of the additional expenses that carers face as a result of their work.
“Carers are everywhere and all of us may become carers at some time in our lives, so we must ensure that carers are seen and supported and that their voices are heard. As politicians, we are responsible for ensuring that carers are supported in every way possible, and for ending the dreadful situation that leaves them living in poverty.”