Carers make a substantial but often unseen contribution to
Scottish society and economy.
Research has estimated that it would cost Scotland's health and
social services over £7.6 billion to replace the care provided by
- There are 657,000 unpaid carers in Scotland - more than the
total health and social care workforce. It is estimated that
100,000 are young carers who combine their education with caring
- 115,000 spend 50 hours or more a week providing care to a
family member or friend.
- Over 250,000 balance paid work with their unpaid caring
responsibilities. Typically these are routine and lower skilled
jobs which enable them to combine work and caring
- One in five carers have to give up their jobs because of the
burden of caring.
- Scotland's ageing population means that it is estimated that 1
million people in Scotland will have a caring role by
Carers face a number of barriers in being able to enter and then
sustain employment. These barriers include:
- Never worked or no/low qualifications due to their caring
- Low self-confidence.
- Difficulties finding suitable jobs that allow for caring
- Perceived or actual inflexibility and discrimination from
employers and colleagues.
- Difficulties combining employment and caring responsibilities
in terms of the demands that both pose.
- Isolation and lack of social networks.
- Carers' own health and wellbeing can be negatively affected by
their caring responsibilities.
For carers who do work, the routine and lower skilled jobs they
often hold are lower paid and can put them at risk of poverty. A
Princess Royal Trust for Carers survey found that 53% of carers
who work earn less than £10,000 a year, while 60% have to spend all
their savings to support the person they care for. 89% say that
they are financially worse off as a result of caring.
Policies and Interventions
Together - The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-2015 published
in July 2010, is a comprehensive strategy covering different
aspects of carers' lives and has the vision of ensuring that:
- Carers are recognised and valued as equal partners in
- Carers are supported and empowered to manage their caring
responsibilities with confidence and in good health and to have a
life of their own outside of caring.
- Carers are fully engaged as participants in the planning and
development of their own personalised, high-quality, flexible
support and are not shoe-horned into unsuitable support. The same
principle applies to carers' involvement in the services provided
to the people they care for.
- Carers are not disadvantaged, or discriminated against, by
virtue of being a carer.
The strategy's Employment and Skills chapter confirms
the importance of carer employment, skills development and lifelong
learning, and recognises the important role of carer-friendly and
flexible working practices - with actions set out in support of
it Right for Young Carers: The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland
2010-2015 focuses on the specific issues faced by young carers
and how they can best be supported when balancing the challenges of
growing up, being at school, and making the transition from school
whilst they continue caring.
In supporting carers towards and into employment, it is important
to highlight that carers and young carers bring a wealth of
experience, skills and common sense which employers value. For
example, they will often have strong skills in relation to:
- Time management.
- Communication skills - verbal, written and telephone
- Assertiveness in dealing with professionals.
- Dealing with crisis, stressful situations and deadlines.
- Working well with others/team player.
- Financial planning and managing money.
- Dealing with paperwork and complex documents.
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