Following the launch of its manifesto this morning, RISE - Scotland's Left Alliance has published additional details of one of its key policy pledges.
In a briefing document, RISE argues that Scotland's growing army of unpaid carers are an indispensable part of Scottish society and should receive significantly more support than they do at present.
The document outlines a number of proposals that would dramatically improve the lives of Scotland’s unpaid carers, including:
- The creation of a Living Income for Unpaid Carers (LIC), set at £200 per week, for all those caring for 35 hours a week or more.
- The provision of this income regardless of whether recipients have any other earnings or are in full time education.
- The provision, guaranteed in law, of free annual health checks to all registered carers.
- The introduction of a mandatory right to paid care leave of 10 days enforceable on all employers.
RISE estimates the LIC would cost £1.78bn annually. This would be funded by a combination of tax changes, including a higher rate of tax on the richest earners in Scotland, a new income-based Scottish Service Tax to replace the Council Tax, and the introduction of a Whisky Tax on whisky manufacturing companies.
Commenting, Deborah Waters, a RISE Glasgow candidate and long term unpaid carer who spoke at the manifesto launch, said:
"Carers are so essential to Scotland's economy. It's a scandal in modern Scotland that the carers' allowance is the lowest benefit in the UK at just £62.10 per week.
"Carers often ignore their own health problems to care for someone they love. Unfortunately the UK government ruthlessly exploits this.
"The Scottish Government now has an opportunity to radically improve the lives of unpaid carers throughout the country."
NHS research suggests that it takes an average of two years for unpaid carers to acknowledge their role, given the difficulty in separating their caring role from their relationship to friends or family. RISE plans to meet with local carer groups across the country to discuss the policy and find out how they can assist with raising awareness.
Deborah Waters added:
"Many carers that they can't go on as things are.
"The harsh reality is that many more carers are reaching breaking point with their own health breaking down.
"The cuts by national and local government mean that services used by those we care for are being decimated.
"Carers should be appreciated so they can feel more human again. Caring is at the heart of what makes us a decent society