Next First Minister must ensure Scotland’s ‘globally significant’ commitment to care delivers concrete changes

Campaigners, including Disability Equality Scotland, have warmly welcomed Scottish Ministers’ backing for a new world-leading commitment on care, and say that it must not be overshadowed by the political upheaval facing the Scottish Government. Instead, campaigners say ‘to be worth the paper it’s written on’, the next First Minister must fully deliver a meaningful step-change in how both unpaid and paid carers in Scotland are valued and supported.

Following a successful campaign by A Scotland That Cares, a coalition campaign backed by over 70 organisations including leading Scottish charities, think tanks and trade unions, the Scottish Government has proposed a new, dedicated National Outcome on care.

Once finalised it will make Scotland one of the first countries in the world to make such an explicit and comprehensive commitment to driving and transparently measuring progress on how care and, crucially, those who look after someone, are valued.

First introduced in 2007, the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (NPF) includes eleven National Outcomes, the goals which it says describe ‘the kind of Scotland’ it wishes to create. However, there is currently no Outcome on care, a glaring omission which A Scotland That Cares sought to change during the Government’s recent review led by the Deputy First Minister, Shona Robison.

The campaign, backed by carers across Scotland, was launched at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when people and many politicians took to their doorsteps to ‘clap for carers’ and other key workers. Since then, the campaign has shown how the undervaluation of all forms of care is leaving too many people who look after someone, particularly women, to pay a deep financial and personal price, including poverty and burn-out.

The draft new National Outcomes recommended by Scottish Ministers have today been lodged at the Scottish Parliament for scrutiny by MSPs before being finalised, and they include a new National Outcome on Care, which states ‘We are cared for as we need throughout our lives and value all those providing care’.

As well as covering care at all stages of a person’s life, the new National Outcome will cover everyone with caring responsibilities in Scotland; from unpaid carers looking after friends and family, including young carers, to parents looking after children and paid social care and childcare workers.

Becky Duff, Director of Carers Trust Scotland, said: “Carers, whether paid or unpaid, are the backbone of our society, providing essential support and compassion to those in need. For too long, their tireless efforts have gone unseen and unappreciated, resulting in carers often facing burn out and poverty. The Scottish Government’s landmark new commitment to carers is a positive step towards ensuring that carers of all kinds receive the recognition and resources they urgently need and deserve.”

The creation of a new National Outcome on care comes as public support for carers remains high, with polling showing nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults in Scotland back a new National Outcome on care. It has already attracted support from multiple political parties.

A Scotland That Cares says the new Outcome must be underpinned by robust indicators, such as those proposed by academics through the University of the West of Scotland – Oxfam Partnership, to ensure that its delivery translate into practical policies, adequate funding, and meaningful support systems that make a tangible difference to the daily lives of carers.

Donald McCaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care, said: “For decades, carers of all kinds have provided an essential service which, despite its Cinderella status, has kept our communities and economy afloat. The new National Outcome on care must be a line in the sand, and given the weight, impetus, and funding it needs to drive the substantial spending and policy changes required to address the myriad of issues facing the care sector, carers and those they care for.”

Campaigners are urging MSPs from across the political spectrum to back the new National Outcome while ensuring that Scotland’s 13 proposed National Outcomes have more weight in driving policy and spending decisions across all levels of government.

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “This hugely welcome, globally significant commitment to carers cannot be overshadowed or undermined by short-term political upheaval. The next First Minister must instead ensure the proposed National Outcome on Care is worth the paper it’s written on by delivering rapid and transformative changes that boost investment in care and give carers the support they need. It’s time that carers, and the contribution they make to our country, are both visible and valued.”