A coalition of leading Scottish organisations has called on Scotland’s political leaders to make a ‘generation-defining’ New Year’s resolution to place the nation’s carers at the heart of a new vision for the country as it recovers from COVID-19.
In a letter to the leaders of the five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament, the organisations say the pandemic has highlighted and heightened the severe strain faced by too many paid carers, low-income parents and those caring for people with additional needs. The letter says that many people with caring responsibilities across the country are living in poverty or standing on the precipice of it, despite the invaluable role they play in Scottish society.
The organisations; Oxfam Scotland, Scottish Care, One Parent Families Scotland, the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, and the seven National Carer Organisations in Scotland, including Carers Scotland, are together calling for Scotland’s political leaders to learn the lessons of the pandemic and put carers at the heart of the Scottish Parliament’s vision for the country.
The coalition says that politicians must demonstrate their commitment to carers by creating a new National Outcome on valuing and investing in care and all those who provide it, whether paid or unpaid. The organisations describe support for a National Outcome as a “litmus test” of every political party’s commitment to those who provide care, and those cared for, in Scotland.
The 11 National Outcomes contained within the current Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework describe “the kind of Scotland it aims to create”. Yet there is no Outcome focused specifically on care, despite its critical importance to people’s wellbeing and the economy. The organisations say this is a ‘glaring omission’ which must be rectified.
Their joint letter calls on the party leaders to embed their party’s positive statements of support during the pandemic for those with caring responsibilities by making a New Year’s resolution to place care and carers at the heart of a new National Outcome for Scotland. They say this will place care at visible heart of the country’s vision for success and help focus future policy and spending decisions.
The joint letter says:
“Everyone needs care at some point in their life; as a child, if they have a disability or additional needs, or in older age; yet the nation’s carers have been under-valued and under-rewarded for far too long, with too many facing poverty as a result. COVID-19 didn’t create these injustices, but it has exacerbated and exposed them.
In recent months there has been a welcome surge in political and public solidarity with those who provide care, most of whom are women. Despite the additional measures put in place to support those with caring responsibilities in Scotland before and during the pandemic, the experience of carers remain all but invisible in the National Outcomes contained within the National Performance Framework: this is a glaring omission which must now be rectified. As Scotland looks to sustainably recover from COVID-19, and build resilience to future pandemics, we urge you to work together to make Scotland a truly caring country.
As a first step, we ask you to make a generation-defining commitment to care and all those who provide it across the nation by putting in place a dedicated National Outcome. We believe this will help ensure that welcome statements of support for carers lead to meaningful and long-lasting change while ensuring that progress towards better valuing and investing in care is transparently monitored.”
The organisations say that while ensuring that care is reflected in the delivery of all existing 11 National Outcomes is essential, a new National Outcome, developed in deep consultation with those providing and receiving care, as well as wider society, would fully embed the learning from COVID-19. Progress would be measured and scrutinised through the identification of specific National Indicators.
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland and coordinator of the joint letter, said: “The pandemic has thrown the critical importance of the nation’s carers into sharper focus than ever before, yet right now they are largely invisible within how Scotland measures success. That wasn’t right before the pandemic, but it is an even more glaring omission now.
“As we enter the New Year, we want Scotland’s political leaders to make a new resolution to work with those who provide care to create a new National Outcome to ensure paid and unpaid carers are properly valued, protected from poverty and placed at the heart of the country’s recovery from COVID-19.”
Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, said: “As social care services contracted during the pandemic, unpaid carers stepped up, with more and more taking on this role, to support older and disabled family members and friends. It is no exaggeration to say that this contribution was critical; without it, formal services simply would not have been able to cope.
“This is not new – carers have always been integral to enabling disabled and older people to live at home and in their communities. Yet too often carers feel invisible, with little support and significant impacts on their health, wellbeing and incomes.
“During the pandemic, however, the role of care came to greater public attention. The focus of a national outcome will help move good intentions and public commitment into real tangible change.”
Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care, said: “The extent to which a nation prioritises care and support, and those who deliver it both paid and unpaid, is indicative of the degree to which it enables the inclusion and participation of all citizens. Social care provides the means by which all individuals regardless of their circumstance are able to reach their full potential and to live their lives as they would want. Care is the essence of who we are.
“The creation of a new National Outcome would be a strong indication that as well as ‘clapping for carers’ as we did during the pandemic, that as a nation we are committing to work together to prioritise care as a key driver within our society. A National Outcome would enable us to measure, and I would hope to celebrate, that success.”
For more information and interviews, please contact: Rebecca Lozza, Oxfam Media and Communications Adviser: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07917738450
Notes to editor
- Read the full text of the letter here: https://bit.ly/3pcKlxe
- List of signatories: Oxfam Scotland, Scottish Care, One Parent Families Scotland, the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, and the seven National Carer Organisations in Scotland – Carers Trust Scotland, Carers Scotland, Coalition of Carers in Scotland , Crossroads Caring Scotland, MECOPP (Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project), Shared Care Scotland and the Scottish Young Carers Service Alliance.
- Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF) was launched in 2007, put into law in 2015, and was last refreshed in 2018. The NPF sets an overall purpose and vision for Scotland. It highlights the broad National Outcomes that support the Purpose and provides measures, via National Indicators, on how well Scotland is progressing towards the National Outcomes.
- The existing 11 National Outcomes that make up the National Performance Framework cover Children and Young People, Communities, Culture, Economy, Education, Environment, Fair Work and Business, Health, Human Rights, International and Poverty.
- Read more about the National Performance Framework here: https://nationalperformance.gov.scot/
- The call for a National Outcome on care is included within the Oxfam Scotland paper, Care, Climate and Covid-19: Building A Wellbeing Economy for Scotland: https://oxfamapps.org/scotland/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CARE-CLIMATE-AND-COVID-19-November-23-2020.pdf