By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie, Labour MSP for Dumbarton constituency, right, has backed calls for a “fair deal” for unpaid carers, as analysis revealed over 9 in 10 unpaid carers are missing out on Carers Allowance.
It is estimated that there are now 1.1 million unpaid carers in Scotland, but of them only 82,000, or 7 per cent, receive Carers Allowance and the Scottish Carers Allowance Supplement. This leaves a total of more than one million carers without this support.
This is due to both inadequate and restrictive eligibility in UK-wide rules, as well as a failure to promote to take up.
Among the million unpaid carers who are not receiving either the basic allowance or the supplement, there are almost 39,000 people who meet eligibility requirements but cannot access either benefit due to restrictive DWP rules.
Scottish Labour have called on both the UK and the Scottish Governments to use the powers at their disposal to pick up the pace and better help unpaid carers, using levers in both social security and in social care.
The party have called for an unpaid carers strategy to deliver improved support in Scotland, along with action to ensure the wider social care system is fit for purpose.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “Unpaid carers provide invaluable support to their loved ones and our society and have done so for years, often having to step up where our struggling care system has failed – but during the pandemic this has got worse than ever.
“Hundreds of thousands of unpaid carers are exhausted after the pandemic, feeling over-worked and underappreciated. They haven’t had access to any respite services that would normally be available and many are living in poverty. Being ineligible for support adds insult to injury and leaves them feeling undervalued and their contribution invisible.
“They are being let down over and over again by failures at every level of government.
“Both the UK and Scottish Governments need to get a move on to transfer the case load and start making the fundamental reforms that Carers Allowance needs to get money in the pockets of the thousands of carers who desperately need it.
“And the Scottish Government must produce a real strategy to support unpaid carers, setting out how they will use the many levers they have to deliver a fair deal for Scotland’s unpaid carers.”