We’ve just celebrated Carers Week here in Scotland, and we owe a massive debt of gratitude to carers across country who care for their loved ones.
There are an estimated 759,000 carers in Scotland – and around 29,000 of these are young carers aged under 16.
The Scottish Government is working to provide more support for carers – and the Carers Bill currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament will enshrine carers’ rights in law for the first time.
It will also build on the £114 million funding the SNP Government has invested in programmes to support carers, and every carer will be entitled to their own support plan.
But harsh Tory welfare cuts continue to threaten to undermine the good progress being made in Scotland.
The Scotland Bill in its current form falls far short of the powers Scotland needs to thrive – and fails to meet even the powers set out in the Smith Commission.
It also appears to restrict how the Scottish Government can support carers – by defining them as over 16 and not in full-time education or employment.
This could put obstacles in the way of the Scottish Government being able to mitigate the impact of the roll-out of Personal Independence Payments.
Scotland’s carers can’t afford Tory cuts to their support – we need full powers over social security in Scotland to allow us to protect, support and empower people who need help, rather than pushing them into poverty with punitive cuts and sanctions as the Tories are continuing to do.
In Glasgow the issue is being compounded with the recent announcement that the council are going to put carers support services out to tender – the latest in a long line of decisions taken by Glasgow City Council that have cut vital services that carers, and those they care for need.
Too often because of cuts to personal budgets, people are priced out of accessing the service that they require. Carers trust their local carers centres and they rely on the services they provide in their local community.
I know my SNP colleagues across Glasgow will do all they can to support Glasgow carers and try to convince the council to change tact on this and save, and support these lifeline services.
I am also delighted to announce that I have decided to seek re-nomination for the Glasgow Cathcart seat from my local SNP branch.
It has been a privilege to be the MSP for the area that I grew up in and to have done my bit to make this community better.
I hope I get the opportunity to seek a new mandate from the people of Cathcart to continue on the work that I have done supporting constituents, taking up their cases and arguing on their behalf.