The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities jointly published the carers and young carers strategy on 26 July. We have been discussing issues to do with the implementation group with COSLA, which is our partner in the strategy. Invitations to a range of stakeholders to participate in the group will be issued shortly.
I hope that the minister will join me in repudiating the comments about carers that were reputedly made by the Conservative candidate for Clydesdale, Colin McGavigan.
Carers centres across the country fear that they might face substantial cuts in their budgets, many of which have been at a standstill for three, four or five years. However, those centres are critical to the carers support infrastructure and deliver preventive carers support, which prevents crisis situations from arising. What discussions has the minister had with COSLA since the implementation of the strategy, and how will local authorities' implementation of the strategy be monitored?
In a rare display of Labour-Scottish National Party unity, I join Des McNulty in repudiating the comments that have been attributed to the Conservative candidate. Carers make a tremendous contribution, often above and beyond the call of any duty, and we should all be extremely grateful to them for that.
I recognise the responsibility that the Government has to carers. I also recognise that we have a considerable way to go to fulfil that responsibility. One of the commitments that the Government set, which was reflected in our concordat with local government, was a commitment to increase the amount of respite care that is available to carers. Although there is still work to do, there is considerable and welcome progress towards meeting that commitment.
Discussions with COSLA are on-going. The strategy is a joint publication, which was approved