Holyrood approve bill to provide more support to carers
Legislation that promises to improve the lives of Scotland's carers has been passed by MSPs.
The Scottish government bill will require councils to plan how they will support adult and young carers, and the definition of "carer" will be changed to include more people.
Local authorities will also have to set up advice services.
Scotland is believed to have about 745,000 adult carers and 44,000 young carers.
Together, they are estimated to provide care worth about £10bn every year.
Backed the proposals
The Carers Bill aims to help carers balance their caring responsibilities with other things they want to achieve in their lives and helping them to be healthier and happier.
Opposition MSPs broadly backed the proposals, although concerns had been expressed about the cost of implementation.
The Scottish government introduced the legislation, saying it would provide an important opportunity "to extend and enhance the rights of both adult and young carers".
- changing the definition of carer so that it encompasses a greater number of carers
- giving local authorities a duty to prepare an adult care and support plan (ACSP) or young carer statement (YCS) for anyone they identify as a carer, or for any carer who requests one
- giving local authorities a duty to provide support to carers that meet local eligibility criteria
- requiring local authorities and NHS boards to involve carers in carers' services
- giving local authorities a duty to prepare a carers strategy for their area
- requiring local authorities to establish and maintain advice and information services for carers.
Health boards and local authorities will also be required to create local carer strategies.
And Scottish ministers will be required to prepare a Carers' Charter.
Speaking during the final debate on the proposals at Holyrood, Health Improvement Minister Jamie Hepburn thanked politicians from all parties for the respect they had shown for the country's carers.
And he said the bill had been improved by the input from MSPs on all sides.