Carers Legislation - Consultation on Proposals

A consultation on proposed legislative measures to further support carers and young carers in Scotland.

Annex A Definition of carer and young carer


1) The main definition in law of a carer is 'a person ("the carer") who provides, or intends to provide, a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for another person aged eighteen or over ("the person cared for") or for a disabled child.' The carer can be a child so young carers are included in the definition. The definition is provided in law for eligibility for the carer's assessment.

2) There are other definitions too which are similar to the one above.[51]

3) The definition used in Caring Together, and by local authorities and Health Boards in the same form, or adapted, is:

'Carers provide care to family members, other relatives, partners, friends and neighbours of any age affected by physical or mental illness (often long-term), disability, frailty or substance misuse. Sometimes the cared-for person will have more than one condition. Some carers care intensively or are life-long carers. Others care for shorter periods. The carer does not need to be living with the cared-for person to be a carer. Anybody can become a carer at any time, sometimes for more than one person. Carers are now, and will remain, fundamental to strong families and partnerships and to resilient and cohesive communities.'

4) The definition in Caring Together cannot be used for the purposes of the carers' legislation. The definition needs to be shorter and sharper.

5) There will be some people who undertake caring, perhaps on a minimal basis, but who do not wish to be regarded as carers and who rule themselves out of eligibility for a Carer's Support Plan. This is discussed in chapter 2.

Adult carer

6) The term 'carer' will mean an adult who provides or who intends to provide care for another adult who is an adult needing care or for a child needing care, except where the child needs care solely due to its age.

Young carer

7) Where young carers are included in the provisions in the carers' legislation, the definition will need to be changed to reflect this.

8) There are a few definitions of 'young carer' in Getting it Right for Young Carers including two provided by young carers themselves. A third definition is from the Care 21 Report[52] as follows:

'A child or young person aged under 18 who has a significant role in looking after someone else who is experiencing illness or disability.'

9) The fourth definition is Saul Becker's definition which has been adopted by The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Social Work[53] as:

'children and young people under 18 who provide or intend to provide care,

assistance or support to another family member. They carry out, often on a

regular basis, significant or substantial caring tasks and assume a level of

responsibility which would usually be associated with an adult …The person receiving care is often a parent but can be a sibling or other relative who is disabled, has chronic illness, mental health problems or other condition connected with a need for care, support or supervision.'

10) Since none of the definitions can be used for law, the definition will be a person under the age of 18 who provides or who intends to provide care for an adult or child needing care, except where the child needs care solely due to its age.

11) We have considered whether young carers caring for siblings should be within the scope of the proposed carers' legislation, especially if they are not the primary carer. However, the wellbeing of these young carers can be affected by the caring, especially in one-parent households. This does not mean that all siblings of disabled and/or ill children are young carers. Some are not.[54]

12) Legislation allows for young carers to be eligible for support no matter whether they care for a disabled parent (or grandparent) or sibling or both. Providing that the local authority decides whether the young carer has needs in relation to the care which the young carer provides, or intends to provide, to the cared-for person, then the fact that the young carer might not be the main carer to a sibling or parent is irrelevant.

13) Therefore, young carers who care for disabled and/or ill siblings as well as those who care for disabled and/or ill parents or others would come under the definition of young carer.

People who are not carers

14) As with current legislation, people will not be regarded as a carer if they provide or intend to provide care by virtue of a contract of employment or as voluntary work.

People who are employed by family members

15) It is possible for a family member to be employed by another family member using a direct payment. This has been allowed for a number of years and local authorities will continue to have the discretion to agree to such arrangements under the new legal framework underpinning self-directed support.

16) The employment of a family member entails a formal employment arrangement. It relates to the provision of the state-funded support that would otherwise have been provided by the local authority. In some instances the employed person will not provide 'unpaid care' in addition to their formal employment arrangement with their relative. However, in other instances the employed person may provide 'unpaid' care in addition to the formal employment arrangement. In such instances, the carer may still have their own needs for support as a carer. In these circumstances, where the local authority considers that the relationship between the person needing care and the person providing care is such that it would be appropriate for the latter to be regarded as a carer, then the person will be regarded as such. Since there are no additional restrictions on the age of the employed personal assistant beyond those that are imposed by general employment legislation, then this would apply to young carers too.

Unpaid carer

17) Although the term 'carer' can be confused with paid 'care worker' in that paid care workers are sometimes called 'carers,' we do not propose to use the term in law of 'unpaid carer.' In fact, as set out in paragraph 15 above, the 'carer' will sometimes be paid.


Email: Alun Ellis

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