Scottish Government Response to 'Carers Legislation - Consultation on Proposals - January 2014'

On 22 January 2014 the Scottish Government launched 'Carers Legislation - Consultation on Proposals'. The consultation ran for 12 weeks and closed on 16 April 2014.

Chapter 6: Local carer strategies

Question 20 Should we introduce statutory provision to the effect that a local authority and each relevant health board must collaborate and involve relevant organisations and carers in the development of local carer strategies which must be kept under review and updated every three years?

What we heard

Many respondents supported a duty to develop, publish and review local carer strategies. They saw merit in ensuring that unmet carer needs at local level are identified, potential demand for services assessed, consistency in service provision promoted and progress in providing a range of services and achieving outcomes monitored and evaluated.

Some respondents suggested that the requirement to prepare strategic plans under the Public Bodies Act and to prepare children's services plans under the CYP Act negated the need for local carer strategies. Also, some respondents noted that they had already introduced local carer strategies.

The involvement of carers, young carers and relevant organisations in the design, development and review of local carer strategies is seen as critical to the delivery of services which more effectively meet carers' needs and was widely supported by a majority of respondents.

Some respondents representing young carers suggested that specific stand-alone young carer strategies should be developed, while others suggested that specific reference to young carers should be included within any local carer strategy that local authorities produce.

Views were divided about the three year period proposed for review of the local carer strategy. Some suggested that three years was too long a period between reviews whilst others suggested that there should be sufficient flexibility to ensure that local carer strategies could be amended to take account of changing needs occurring between reviews.

The Scottish Government response

We intend to introduce a duty that requires local authorities to develop and publish local carer strategies. We recognise, however, that local authorities are working within the context of health and social care integration and that carers' issues will inevitably be considered as part of the analysis necessary to produce strategic plans.

Nevertheless we see merit in, and a distinct role for, local carer strategies which focus specifically on identifying carers' needs, assessing the type and level of demand for carer support and services and considering the availability and sustainability of supply.

Given the positive support expressed, particularly (though not exclusively) by carer organisations and individual carers, for the involvement of carers, young carers and carer organisations in the development and review of local carer strategies, our intention is to introduce such a duty on local authorities. We believe that there is a strong argument for statutory provision to ensure carer involvement in the development and review of local carer strategies. The duty on carer involvement will facilitate more consistent, more informed and more effective planning, resulting in the delivery of services which more closely meet carers' needs.

It is our intention that local authorities also collaborate and consult widely with others in the development of local carer strategies. In part this is to ensure the identification and adoption of best practice and innovation and also to ensure that the local authority takes account of other wider plans or national initiatives relevant to the provision of services for carers or young carers.

We recognise that some aspects of a caring role are common to adult and young carers. There are also distinct differences. This was reflected in and emphasised by a number of responses to the consultation, where there were some calls for statutory provision for the development and delivery of specific young carer strategies.

It is our intention that the local carer strategy must contain information relating to the particular needs and circumstances of young carers. In practice, this can be achieved either through one local strategy covering both adult and young carers or by separate adult and young carer strategies.

We intend to place a duty on local authorities to review their local carer strategy at least every three years. We believe that a three year period strikes the right balance between ensuring that the local carer strategy is relevant and up-to-date whilst not imposing an onerous requirement to review more frequently. Local authorities will have flexibility to review their local carer strategy more frequently, should they choose to do so, in response to local circumstances.

The publication of each local carer strategy will enable each local authority with its partners to see the local carer strategies for other areas. This will enable the sharing of good ideas and practice across local authorities.

Question 21 Should we introduce statutory provision to the effect that local authorities with health boards must take steps to ensure, in so far as is reasonably practicable, that a sufficient range of services is available for meeting the needs for support to carers and young carers in the area?

What we heard

The majority of respondents supported this proposal with some of these noting the need to be able to offer a range of services to carers in order to meet their needs.

The Scottish Government response

As noted by some respondents there is already statutory provision in the SDS Act about market sufficiency. Section 19 requires local authorities to promote the availability of the options for self-directed support and to promote a variety of providers of support and the variety of support provided. This provision applies to carers and young carers as well as to service users. This function is one which must be delegated under integration arrangements and so in practice local authorities and health boards will be required to work together in order to promote a range of services to meet carers' needs in their area. We do not therefore propose to introduce further statutory provision.

Local commissioning strategies should set out how current provision needs to change to meet future needs. Moreover, as self-directed support develops further, it is anticipated that the market will grow to reflect the demand from carers and young carers for support services. The local carer strategies will also need to set out local authorities' assessment of the demand for support to carers and the extent to which demand for support to carers is not being met. There will therefore need to be a focus on developing the market in new and innovative ways in order to provide choice in support services for carers and young carers.


Email: Alun Ellis

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