Policy and legislation in Scotland
The Scottish Parliament has responsibility for health, the NHS and social care, education, some social security (including disability and carer benefits) and so most of the legislation which affects unpaid carers in Scotland is discussed in the Scottish Parliament.
If you provide at least 35 hours a week of unpaid care for someone receiving certain disability benefits, then you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance. This is a payment of £76.75 (in 2023/2024) per week.
Carer Support Payment is the new carer benefit in Scotland, which will be rolled out across local authority areas in phases and be available across Scotland by Autumn 2024, this will replace Carer’s Allowance once launched.
Carer's Allowance Supplement
Carer's Allowance Supplement is an extra payment for people in Scotland who get Carer's Allowance on a particular date.
Carer’s Assistance (Carer Support Payment) (Scotland) Regulations 2023.
Carer Support Payment (which will replace Carer’s Allowance in Scotland) is planned to launch nationally in Scotland by Autumn 2024.
When it first launches entitlement to Carer Support Payment will broadly mirror Carer’s Allowance. This is to safely and securely transfer the awards of people in Scotland receiving Carer’s Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions to Social Security Scotland. This process is called case transfer.
How is Carer Support Payment planning to be different to Carer’s Allowance?
From launch, Scottish Government are committed to:
- Extend entitlement to those unpaid carers over 20 years old in full-time education at any level.
- Extend entitlement to those aged 16 to 19 in full-time advanced further and higher education (studying at HNC level and above).
- Update the past presence test – meaning that those moving to Scotland from out with the Common Travel Area will be able to access the benefit more quickly.
Scottish Government plan to make a range of further improvements once case transfer is complete and post launch of Carer Support Payment. Scottish Government are committed to:
- Introduce a new supplement payment for those caring for more than one person, which will provide eligible unpaid carers an additional £10 per week. This payment will be known as ‘Carer’s Additional Person Payment’ and will be introduced as soon as practical. Payment will be paid alongside regular payments of Carer Support Payment.
- Increase the ‘run on’ of support after a cared for person dies from 8 week currently under Carer’s Allowance to 12 weeks, as soon as practical.
- Pay new claims for Carer Support Payment every four weeks, with weekly advance payments only in case of terminal illness. There are currently no plans to give claimants the choice of weekly payments.
- Consider support for student carers aged 16-19 in non-advanced education (mostly those at school and those studying below HNC level).
- Continue to pay Carer’s Allowance Supplement (the additional top up payment to unpaid carers in Scotland) but to move to pay this alongside regular payments of Carer Support Payment as soon as practical. This will mean that Scottish Government will no longer deliver this as two lump sums per year but will provide unpaid carers with a higher regular income.
- Uprate all Scottish benefits, including carer benefit in line with inflation; by 10.1% in April 2023.
- Continue to explore the option of allowing caring hours to be added across two cared for people to meet the required hours eligibility for Carer Support Payment.
- Set Carer Support Payment to £0 when the cared for person goes into hospital and their disability benefit is stopped. Allowing Carer Support Payment to begin again soon after the cared for person leaves hospital, with no need for the unpaid carer to reapply (which is currently the process under Carer’s Allowance).
- Continue to consider the ‘run on’ period of support after the cared for person goes into hospital from 4 weeks when the cared for person’s disability benefits stops.
- Consider making amendments to increasing the earnings threshold (currently £132 a week or less a week after tax).
- Longer term consideration for introducing an additional payment for long term carers
Young Carer Grant and Young Carers Package
Young Carer Grant is a yearly payment of £359.65 (April 2023) for young carers in Scotland aged 16, 17 or 18 years old and providing an average of 16 hours a week of unpaid care.
Young Scot operate the Young Carers Package, which is a special bundle of treats available to all young carers who are 11 to 18 years old (inclusive) in Scotland. The package includes digital vouchers, access to subscriptions and exclusive opportunities for young carers.
National Carers Strategy
In December 2022, the Scottish Government published a National Carers Strategy. The strategy seeks to address the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis and COVID-19 recovery and aims to support long-term change that will allow unpaid carers to provide care in a way that balances all other aspects of their lives.
The strategy also aims to ensure that unpaid carers' importance to society is recognised and that their voices are represented and heard in national policy making.
The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016
The primary law that affects unpaid carers in Scotland is called the Carers (Scotland) Act. It has been implemented since April 2018 and replaces previous legislation that supports unpaid carers. The Act makes it simpler for unpaid carers to be identified as needing support with their caring role, and makes getting this support easier too.
Carers’ assessments have been replaced in Scotland by Adult Carer Support Plans (for adults) and Young Carer Statements (for young carers under 18). Both of these focus more on how the caring role is affecting the person, rather than the number of hours spent caring.
The Act specifies that there must be certain things included in support planning for unpaid carers, such as emergency and future planning, the unpaid carer’s personal outcomes, how much care the unpaid carer is willing and able to provide, and whether any support could include a break from caring.
Each local authority must also maintain or establish an information and advice service for unpaid carers. The services must provide information and advice about certain topics, including unpaid carers’ rights, income maximisation, advocacy, bereavement support, and emergency and future care planning.
The key duty in the Act is that unpaid carers who meet eligibility criteria must be provided with support to meet their identified needs. When unpaid carers do not meet eligibility criteria for support, local authorities must set out how they will meet those needs.
Each local authority must set their own local eligibility criteria, and must consult and involve unpaid carers and representative organisations when developing the criteria.
The Act has a lot of focus on unpaid carer involvement – both in local strategy development and development of services, and in assessment and services provided to the cared for person. There is also a duty on health boards to involve unpaid carers in hospital discharge of the person they look after.
Carers (Scotland) Act – Jargon Buster for Young Carers
We’ve worked with the Scottish Government and with young carer services to develop a Carers (Scotland) Act – Jargon Buster for Young Carers. This resource explains some of the more complicated or unusual words and phrases in the Carers (Scotland) Act guidance to ensure that young carers are fully aware of what the Act means for them and their families.
Further information on policy and legislation for carers in Scotland
Find out more about Policy and legislation in Scotland.