Scotland Can Care For All Our People

Faodaidh Alba cùram a thoirt dhuinn uile

There are over 788,000 unpaid carers in Scotland in addition to those employed in the social care sector, providing invaluable daily support to people of all generations. Care work is essential for our society and economy, but frequently this is undervalued and underpaid. Better conditions are needed for both professional care workers and unpaid carers attending to family and friends. Green MSPs will fight for greater recognition of Scotland’s carers and push for increased financial and practical support.

There is a vast mismatch between the value of care and the support carers receive; Scottish Greens want to recognise the humanity people demonstrate every day by caring for people. We want professional caring to be valued and considered an attractive career and to reward unpaid care. But we also want to extend our compassion across borders and be part of a Scotland that welcomes people fleeing conflict abroad.

Carers are undeniably underpaid. Having served Edinburgh and Lothian as a councillor and an MSP I know from speaking to people in my area how undervalued carers are, and that must change. Green MSPs will campaign for all care and support workers to be paid significantly above the Living Wage, financed by progressive taxation.

Alison Johnstone MSP

Health & Sport, Social Security, Children & Young People

Our commitments

  • A Living Wage Plus

    We want to raise the basic rate of pay for all social care staff.

  • Increase the Carer’s Allowance

    We support an increase to the Carer’s Allowance to recognise the value of unpaid care.

  • Child-friendly society.

    We will push to improve maternity and paternity benefits and provide high-quality childcare.

Scotland can care for carers:

  • Better pay for caring. People who care are undervalued and underpaid. Social care workers do hard and vital work in people’s homes, care homes and every community – but it remains one of the lowest paid sectors, fuelling the gender pay gap. Green MSPs will campaign for all care and support workers to be paid significantly above the Living Wage financed by progressive taxation not care charges. Earlier this year Green councillors in City of Edinburgh Council proposed a funded plan to pay a ‘Living Wage Plus’ of £9 an hour to social care staff. Green MSPs will campaign for this to be introduced across Scotland to help local authorities recruit the best staff and retain those with experience.
  • And better conditions. Better conditions for staff are a vital foundation for a better social care service, fully supporting professionals to put the needs of those being cared for first. Green MSPs will demand improved working conditions for social care workers, such as paid travel time, sick leave, skills training and an end to ‘Zero Hours’ care worker contracts.
  • Helping unpaid carers. Scotland has an estimated 788,000 people providing unpaid care to family members and friends. More than half of working-age carers juggle paid employment with caring. Female carers are particularly affected by the financial cost of giving up work, refusing promotions or reducing their hours of employment. Green MSPs will fight for a better deal for carers. Power to increase the Carer’s Allowance will soon be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Greens will campaign for a 50% increase in payments to £93.15 per week. Young carers and student carers also need financial support and we will explore introducing a Young Carer’s Grant.  
  • A fair Carer’s Allowance. We will also support a redesign of the Carer’s Allowance to value care, tackle financial stress and reduce paperwork – this should include a lower threshold for hours of care and a top-up for people who care for more than one person. Any increase in payments will require a fair settlement with the UK Government and local authorities to guarantee such an increase does not reduce other benefits payments or increase care charges. We will press for clear guidance to local authorities when assessing income to determine non-residential care charges. We advocate the exclusion of Carer's Allowance from such income assessments, so that no carer must spend their allowance on these services.
  • Carers’ rights. New carers’ legislation requires local authorities to identify every carer’s needs and create an individual support plan. Green MSPs will campaign for adequate resources to implement this and to help make sure those needs can be met with good quality support such as replacement care, short breaks, health checks and concessionary travel for carers on income support. Young carers also need extra support and we want to ensure their voices are heard in any discussion of carers’ rights. We will also back the creation of an independent social care tribunal system to help carers and those they care for to realise their existing rights.
  • No pension poverty. A pension should provide a guarantee for people in retirement. Green MSPs will campaign for a state pension which enables everyone to live with dignity. We will push for a Scottish supplement to be paid to all those not receiving the full State Pension, with the costs offset through reduced Pension Credit uptake reclaimed from the UK. 1 in 5 Scots have a financial interest in local government pensions. Greens will support unions to protect the interests of workers and we will make the case to lift restrictions on funds that choose to invest in local infrastructure such as social housing. Private pensions remain reserved but we will support campaigns to ensure the best deal possible for people in retirement.

Scotland can welcome refugees:

  • Welcome to Scotland. Scotland can welcome refugees with open arms. We will continue to campaign for the UK Government to accept more refugees and asylum seekers. Scotland has the space and communities to open to people in need of a home and we will support calls for resources to support community, civil society and charity action to aid integration.
  • New Scots. Green MSPs will push for a bolder Scottish strategy for ‘new Scots’ based on dignity and respect and built on consultation with refugees, local communities and other organisations such as housing and healthcare providers. This strategy should address people’s physical and mental health needs, provide appropriate housing, maintain asylum seekers’ skills for work and provide transition grants to help people build a new life as Scots.
  • Safe route to the UK. We want an asylum system which treats people with dignity not contempt. Green MSPs will support campaigns to create a safe and legal route to the UK, limit detention to circumstances where a UK citizen would also be detained, and close Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre. Detention should never be imposed on those who might suffer additional harm due to their age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, pregnancy, health, or experience of rape or torture.

Scotland can be a child-friendly nation:

  • Fighting child poverty. UNICEF ranks child-wellbeing in the UK as worse than all our nearest neighbours and levels of child poverty are a national disgrace. Compared with 2010, the UK Government has cut pregnancy and child-related benefits across the UK by £1.5 billion per year and the Institute for Fiscal studies forecasts a massive increase in child poverty in Scotland, with up to 100,000 more children living in poverty in 2020 than in 2012. We will continue to campaign against benefit cuts and push to fund health visitors and midwives to work with families to claim all the financial support they are entitled to. The Healthier, Wealthier Children project in Glasgow helped parents, the majority of whom were lone parents, gain an average of £3,000 in financial benefits over a year and a half. We support the Getting It Right For Every Child approach to child wellbeing and policies to give children a healthy start in life.
  • Improving early years education. Green MSPs will help tackle educational inequality at the earliest stage by working with local authorities to deliver meaningful access to a GTCS-qualified teacher in every nursery and 20 hours early-years education per week. Greens will focus on delivering high quality early years education that is child-centred and flexible enough to be useful for parents who work or study part-time. We recognise that nurseries also play a vital role in tackling women’s underemployment and access to education, and we support efforts to strengthen such support.
  • A compassionate care system. Scotland’s young people in care need a system of support based on compassion and care, not just risk-averse protection. Their voices must be central to determining the kind of support they need. All young people should have a planned, supported transition out of the care system, be supported in education and have a right to return to care if needed. The care system must be adequately funded to ensure help is pro-actively available before a crisis in a young person’s life develops and we will support ways to provide financial support to kinship care families at the beginning of a placement. Scottish Greens believe there should be parity of support, based on need, for all care leavers whether they are looked after at home, in kinship care or in rented accommodation.

Scotland can create real social security:

  • A caring social security system. Two decades of welfare reform has warped our social security system, making it unfair and in some cases fostering insecurity and undermining people’s welfare. This is in direct opposition to the principles on which the system was founded. With a number of welfare benefits being devolved for the first time, Scottish Greens believe now is the time to radically re-found the benefits system in Scotland. This should start with the setting up of a Social Security Commission to explore and recommend the principles on which a Scottish benefits system should be established. The Commission will also consider how the benefits system can help to tackle inequality, how needs should be assessed, and how support should be delivered. Commissioners should be drawn from groups representing benefit claimants and welfare service users, as well as from local government and the third sector.
  • Real security for disabled people. The introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been ruinous for thousands of disabled people in Scotland, taking away much-needed support and putting them at risk of poverty. In advance of a total review of disability benefits, Scottish Greens will fight for all PIP claims to be granted initially to ensure disabled people receive immediate support, rather than facing delays of up to a year whilst awaiting a stressful and undignified assessment that treats claimants as guilty until proven innocent. Where additional evidence is required to make a decision on a claim, Scottish Greens will fight for paper, online or telephone procedures to be used rather than face-to-face assessments, unless a claimant requests one. We will also push for repeat assessments for people with chronic or degenerative illnesses with a low chance of improvement to be abolished, and for a minimum re-assessment period which would be decided between government, claimants and other stakeholders. Scottish Greens will also call for a review of DLA and PIP to examine the current stoppage of support during hospital stays, the appeals procedure and the PIP points assessment system.
  • Social security for women and children. The UK government’s agenda of welfare reform and cuts to public services has fallen disproportionately on women and children. House of Commons Library analysis shows that since 2010 between 70 and 80% of savings made by changes to benefits, taxation, pay and pensions have come from women’s incomes. We will advocate for the use of newly devolved powers and resources to help mitigate this inequality, including introducing a weekly top-up to Child Benefit. We will also address concerns around the delivery of the new Universal Credit by calling for splitting the benefit between partners and giving people the option to receive Universal Credit payments more frequently than once a month.
  • Ending the need for food banks. It's a national scandal that in Scotland in 2016, citizens cannot afford to eat due to reduced income. We will strengthen the Scottish Welfare Fund to enable rapid decisions to be made on applications, and use newly devolved power to support people who are left without income as a result of UK benefit delays. Scottish Greens will push for full devolution of social security powers to ensure no Scottish citizen is left without income and destitute.

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