Little Progress on Breaks for Carers

The level of respite services for unpaid carers provided by many Scottish councils has reduced substantially in the last year, leaving thousands of carers without access to much-needed breaks from their caring responsibilities.

Shared Care Scotland today publishes its summary report of the Scottish Government’s latest figures for respite care (short break) provision in Scotland. The figures reveal a wide disparity in the level of respite care services purchased and provided by local authorities in Scotland.

Nineteen councils have reported increased provision leaving 12 with reduced services, and one council reporting no change – despite the nationally agreed target between the Scottish government and COSLA to expand local services by 10,000 weeks by 2011. According to the government figures, in one council area there has been a decrease of more than 2,000 weeks compared to their 2007/08 figures.

Respite care services to children with disabilities and their families have been particularly badly affected with a reduction of 1,120 weeks across Scotland – or nearly 5%. Services to adults decreased by 580 weeks (1.2%) but services to older adults have increased by 2,860 weeks (3.2%).

Don Williamson, Chief Executive of Shared Care Scotland, said: “Despite the agreed commitment with COSLA to expand respite provision across the country, many councils appear not to be prioritising this much needed support to some of their most vulnerable people.

“The chance to have a reasonable amount of time off from caring to re-charge batteries and do the day-to-day things most of us take for granted we know helps to strengthen caring relationships and protect people’s health and well-being. Local authorities ignore this fact at their peril and are potentially storing up problems and far greater expenditure for the future. Hopefully with help from government and COSLA we can turn this around and persuade all local authorities to act now to prevent carer breakdown.”

Shared Care Scotland’s summary report and detailed breakdown can be downloaded from the organisation website:

For a copy of our 2010 Breakthrough Manifesto and Ten Point Action Plan visit:

For further information, please contact Don Williamson on 01383 622462 or 07952 550048.


Shared Care Scotland is a Scottish charity which exists to promote and support the development of respite care (short break) services for carers and the people they care for. Getting the right break at the right time is a big priority for many carers. Short breaks help to strengthen and sustain caring relationships and promote health and well being. Breaks also help those with care needs to maintain or make new relationships, learn new skills and be included in the wider community.

A carer is someone who provides unpaid care to a family member, partner or friend who may be ill, frail, disabled or dependent on drugs or alcohol.

The scale of the issue:

• 1 in 4 of the population are carers, or cared for

• There are over 657,000 carers in Scotland*

• If recent estimates of carers are correct, the annual savings to the NHS in Scotland are estimated at almost £8 billion

• 115,000 people work for more than 50 hours a week unpaid providing care

• 3 in 5 of us will become a carer at some point in our lives

• It is estimated that by 2037 there will be more than a million carers in Scotland

• 40% of carers have not had an overnight break in the last 2-years **

• 75% of carers have no access to regular respite care provision ***

* Based on the latest Scottish Household Survey 2007-08 statistics

** Source: Care 21 report into the future of unpaid care in Scotland

*** Source: Carers Scotland

Contact: Don Williamson
Phone: 01383 622462/07952 550048