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Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed comments from Social Justice Secretary Alex Neill MSP, pledging to use any new powers for the Scottish parliament to deliver the best deal possible for unpaid carers. 


The Cabinet Secretary appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee this week to discuss the proposals from the Smith Commission.


When asked by Ms McAlpine, who sits on the Committee, how new powers might be used to benefit carers the Cabinet Secretary replied:


“I am very keen to do much more for carers than is being done at the present time; the transfer of benefits like the carers allowance will help us, hopefully, to do that, and it’s an area where we will be looking at where we can deliver a better deal for carers, using our existing resources and combine them with the additional resources coming from the carer’s allowance and any other relevant benefits as a result of the Smith process.”


A carers Bill will also be brought forward in the near future as an important part of the Scottish Government’s wider programme of Health and Social Care reform. The Bill will extend the rights of carers, including young carers.


Commenting Ms McAlpine, who co-convenes the Cross Party Group on Carers said:


“This is very encouraging news from the Cabinet Secretary.


“Had we had a Yes vote in the referendum, the SNP would have significantly increased the carer’s allowance to bring it up from the current level (£61) to equate initially with the job-seeker’s allowance.


“Although the Cabinet Secretary is now limited by whatever devolution settlement ultimately emerges from the Smith Commission, it is heartening to know that improving the lives of unpaid carers will remain high on the Scottish Government’s agenda, and that he will use all existing and new powers to advance this cause.”