Publication - Strategy/plan

Caring Together: The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 - 2015

Published: 26 Jul 2010
Part of:
Health and social care

The Scottish Government and COSLA are determined to ensure that carers are supported to manage their caring responsibilities with confidence and in good health, and to have a life of their own outside of caring.

Caring Together: The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 - 2015


The purpose of this chapter is to provide key data on the characteristics of Scotland's carers. It is necessary to have up-to-date data for planning, shaping and delivering support.

3.1 There are an estimated 657,300 carers in Scotland (Scottish Household Survey ( SHS) 2007-08. The number of carers by local authority area are set out in Appendix 6.

3.2 Caring requirements: The SHS 2007-08 estimates that there is a person requiring care in around 14% of households. However, 33% of households report that there is a person in the household with a long-term illness or disability.

3.3 Prevalence of caring: Around 10% of the population provides care to another person. (Census 2001).

3.4 Number of carers: 79% of households with carers in them have one carer, 17% have two carers and 4% have 3 or more carers providing care in the household ( SHS).

3.5 Who carers care for: The majority of carers provide care to a parent, closely followed by care to other relatives (spouses, children, siblings) ( SHS).

3.6 Time spent caring: Almost half of Scottish carers providing care to other household members were providing 'continuous care.' 23% of all carers are caring for 50 hours or more. 63% of carers were undertaking less than 20 hours of care each week.(Census 2001). For those carers helping or caring for another person not living with them, 79% reported that they were providing less than 20 hours of care each week ( SHS).

3.7 Duration of caring role: For those undertaking a caring role within the household, over 70% of carers have been providing care for over 5 years ( SHS).

3.8 Age: As carers get older they take on more caring responsibility (Census 2001).

3.9 Gender: The data indicates that around 11% of women are undertaking a caring role, compared to 8% of men. The overall prevalence of women carers to male carers is around 60:40 (Census 2001). Between the ages of 30 and 69, more women are carers but the gender balance is more even for young carers and for older carers aged 70 and over when a caring role is undertaken within the household ( SHS).

3.10 Ethnicity: All of the data suggests the difficulty in understanding the numbers of BME carers in society. Low reported numbers of carers should not be assumed to mean low prevalence of caring, but rather a reflection of the difficulties survey research has in adequately representing these groups.

3.11 The Minority Ethnic Carers Older People's Project ( MECOPP) has undertaken a survey of support and services provided to BME carers by local authorities and Health Boards in Scotland. The report will provide data to support the baseline of information currently being established by the Scottish Government.

3.12 Economic Activity: For carers in employment, part-time workers are the most likely to be carers. Of those who undertake over 20 hours of care each week, part-time workers and unemployed people are the predominant carer groups (Census 2001).

3.13 Working Status: The working status of a household least likely to contain a carer who cares for another household member is single working adult households. The status of households most likely to contain a carer is a couple household where neither works ( SHS).

3.14 Social Class: The socio-economic classification least likely to have a carer who cares for another household member is the higher managerial and professional occupations, at around 7% of households. Households with a carer are most likely to be in the lower managerial and professional occupations class (26%) ( SHS).

3.15 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD): The biggest proportion of households with a carer who cares for another household member (28%) are in the 20% most deprived data zones in the SIMD. The proportion of households with a carer then decreases steadily as deprivation decreases, so that the least deprived 20% of data zones also has the lowest prevalence of households with carers in Scotland (13%) ( SHS).

3.16 Housing tenure: Carers who care for other household members are most likely to own their property outright (35%), which is likely to be linked to a tendency for carers to be older and/or retired. A further 33% of households with a carer socially rent their property ( SHS).


The Scottish Government will make the information on carers and young carers from surveys such as the Scottish Household Survey and Scottish Health Survey accessible to researchers, care providers and the public through its website and publications.


In respect of the 2011 Census, the views of carers' organisations will be taken into account in deciding what analysis tables will be produced for the General Register Office for Scotland 2011 Census website.

Diversity of the caring population

3.17 Carers reflect the diversity of Scotland's population. There are carers who work, carers who cannot work due to their intensive caring or age, carers who want to work or pursue opportunities in Further or Higher Education, older carers and young carers under 16, lone parent carers, lifelong carers, student carers, BME carers, LGBT carers, carers in remote and rural areas and many other types of carer. Of course, carers may fall into more than one category.

3.18 Kinship carers are different from carers in that they are the family and friends of young people who are in, or are at risk of coming into, the care system. Kinship carers are sometimes the parents of adults with substance misuse problems who care for their grandchildren. They should receive a kinship care allowance from the local authority. However, a kinship carer can also be a carer if, for example, the grandchild has a disability and/or if the kinship carer is also caring for their partner, own parent or someone else. Therefore, support for people who are kinship carers through the carers' route should always be considered if appropriate.

Diversity of the cared-for population

3.19 Just as carers are diverse, so too are the people they care for. It is not straightforward to categorise caring situations. For example, a person with dementia may also be frail and elderly or a person with a learning disability may also have a mental health problem. There are many people being cared for who have long-term conditions.

3.20 The Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability ( SCLD) is working with local authorities to ensure the gathering of more accurate statistics on adults with learning disabilities and autism. The 2008 17 figures show that 7,793 adults with learning disabilities and autism known to local authorities in Scotland lived with a carer. This represents 48% of the adults for whom this information was reported.

3.21 There are some communities of carers we know very little about, most notably: refugees, asylum seekers, gypsy travellers and carers who themselves have disabilities, including learning disabilities. The Scottish Government will consider the need for research in this area.


By 2012, the Scottish Government will draw up a specification and seek to commission research on communities of carers we know little about, including refugees, asylum seekers, gypsy travellers and carers with disabilities, including learning disabilities. This is relevant to young carers too.