Unpaid carers provide care and support to family members, friends and neighbours. The people they care for may be affected by disability, physical or mental ill-health, frailty or substance misuse. A carer does not need to be living with the person they care for. Anybody can become a carer at any time in their life and sometimes for more than one person at a time. Carers can be any age from young children to very elderly people.
The actual number of carers is not known but is estimated to be around 700,000 to 800,000. The latest estimated number of carers is 690,000. This includes 29,000 who are under the age of 18. The Scotland’s Carers research report (March 2015) brings together statistical analysis and research on caring and carers. We recognise the huge contribution made by unpaid carers and continue to work to improve support available to them.
- have established new rights to support under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 and are working with partners to embed those rights
- have committed to free bus travel for those young carers eligible for the Young Carer Grant, from 2020/2021
- have worked with young carers to design and offer exclusive discounts and opportunities for all young carers aged 11 to 18 through the Young Scot card
- fund the Carers Trust Scotland to run the Scottish Young Carers Festival to allow young carers to take a break
- fund the Carer Positive accreditation scheme to recognise employers who provide a supportive working environment for those balancing caring and employment
- support the Triangle of Care project to support carers of those with mental health issues
- fund the Carers Parliament, an annual one day engagement event for carers
- provide £3 million annually for the voluntary sector Short Breaks Fund, delivered by Shared Care Scotland and Family Fund
- fund Respitality - a project which offers carers free short breaks and opportunities donated by the hospitality sector
More information is in the following sections:
We are also improving carer benefits, including:
- introducing the Carer’s Allowance Supplement, raising Carer’s Allowance to the level of jobseeker’s allowance from 2018
- considering the eligibility criteria for Carer’s Allowance and increasing the Carer's Allowance for those looking after more than one disabled child
- introduced the Young Carer Grant for 16 to 18 year olds with significant caring responsibilities in autumn 2019
We published our Carers' Charter in March 2018. This sets out carers' rights under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.
- all carers have the right to a personalised plan to identify what is important to them
- carers also have the right to support to meet their eligible needs and to choose how that support is delivered through self-directed support
- every area must have a local carer strategy and carer information and advice service
- carers also have rights to be involved in assessing the needs of the cared-for person and in decisions about discharging the cared-for person from hospital
We published the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 National Implementation Plan 2016-2019 in October 2017 which sets out priorities for implementing the Act.
We formed the Carers Act Implementation Steering Group to support the implementation of the Carer's Act. This group includes local authorities, health boards, COSLA, third sector and carer representatives
A range of local third sector and community support is available to carers and what’s on offer will vary depending on where you live. More information about what is available in your local area is on the mygov.scot website.
- Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 - statutory guidance is advice for local practitioners on their responsibilities to implement all aspects of the Act
- The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) resource, Understanding Personal Outcomes, and the associated e-book is about using a personal outcomes approach in support planning with carers
- The Equal Partners in Care (EPiC) includes learning resources for workers in health, social care and other services with a role in identifying and supporting carers and young carers
- regulations and Scottish Statutory Instruments supporting the Act
The national carer organisations are:
- Carers Scotland
- Carers Trust Scotland (which hosts the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance)
- Shared Care Scotland
- Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project (MECOPP)
- Coalition of Carers in Scotland (COCIS)
- Crossroads Caring Scotland
- Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people
- Care Information Scotland (CIS) is a phone, webchat and website service providing information about care services for people living in Scotland