SCOTLAND'S carers should be placed at the heart of the recovery from the pandemic, a coalition of organisations has urged.

In a letter to political leaders at Holyrood, the organisations warn the pandemic has highlighted the severe strain faced by too many paid carers, low-income parents and those caring for people with additional needs.

The appeal highlights that many people with caring responsibilities across the country are living in poverty or on the cusp of it.

Oxfam Scotland, Scottish Care, One Parent Families Scotland, the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, and the seven national carer organisations in Scotland, including Carers Scotland, are together calling for Scotland’s political leaders to learn lessons from the pandemic and put carers at the centre of their recovery plans.

The coalition has called for politicians to demonstrate their commitment by creating a new national outcome on valuing and investing in care and all those who provide it, whether paid or unpaid – labelling the pledge as a “litmus test” of every political party’s commitment to those who provide care, and those cared for, in Scotland.

The 11 national outcomes in the Scottish Government’s national performance framework describe “the kind of Scotland it aims to create” – but there is no outcome focused specifically on care, branded a "glaring omission" by the coalition.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland and coordinator of the joint letter, said: “The pandemic has thrown the critical importance of the nation’s carers into sharper focus than ever before, yet right now they are largely invisible within how Scotland measures success. That wasn’t right before the pandemic, but it is an even more glaring omission now.

“As we enter the New Year, we want Scotland’s political leaders to make a new resolution to work with those who provide care to create a new National Outcome to ensure paid and unpaid carers are properly valued, protected from poverty and placed at the heart of the country’s recovery from Covid-19.”

Simon Hodgson, director of Carers Scotland, said: “As social care services contracted during the pandemic, unpaid carers stepped up, with more and more taking on this role, to support older and disabled family members and friends. It is no exaggeration to say that this contribution was critical; without it, formal services simply would not have been able to cope.

“This is not new – carers have always been integral to enabling disabled and older people to live at home and in their communities. Yet too often carers feel invisible, with little support and significant impacts on their health, wellbeing and incomes.

“During the pandemic, however, the role of care came to greater public attention. The focus of a national outcome will help move good intentions and public commitment into real tangible change.”