We are taking forward work on the four agreed strategic priorities of respite for carers, young carers, carer health and carer training. We have put in place, among other things, new incentives for general practitioners to identify carers and refer them for relevant support, and carer information strategies will be put in place at health board level throughout the national health service from April.
That information is very welcome. The deputy minister will be aware that respite care is vital for carers, but its provision is patchy across the country. How is the Executive taking on board the views of carers? Will the Executive consider ring fencing funding for carers and for work around caring?
As part of our response to the care 21 report, "The Future of Unpaid Care in Scotland", we have established a task group that is considering a number of issues around respite care. The group is pooling evidence on provision—to which Cathy Peattie referred—and demand, along with evidence of the value of respite care to carers and those for whom they care. Work is going forward in those areas.
We expect local authorities to make their own judgments about how they allocate and spend the sums that are provided to them under the usual conditions of grant-aided expenditure: that is, we do not provide the funding as a direct budget, but we tell councils the sort of sums that we are providing to them for specific purposes. In taking forward the respite strategy, it is important that local authorities work with local health boards and voluntary organisations, which often work with them in developing services in this area.
Euan Robson makes a valid
The minister will be aware that more than half of all carers are yet to receive an individual assessment of their personal needs in addition to an assessment of the needs of the person for whom they care. Can he tell me what the Executive is doing to ensure that carers receive an individual assessment of their needs?
That is something that we want to see. We are working with local authorities and health boards; we are encouraging them to co-ordinate provision of services and to carry out assessments on an agreed basis. We think that that offers the best way forward.