A group of carers and campaigners have launched Carers for Yes
More than 100 carers and campaigners have backed the independence movement by launching Carers for Yes.
They have each signed a declaration backing the yes campaign as well as telling of their hope for an independent Scotland that is inclusive, welcoming, caring and aspirational for all its people – regardless of ability.
The declaration describes the carer’s allowance as a pittance and points to the work capability assessment and the reduction in disability benefits as proof the UK government doesn’t care about the most vulnerable.
Around 120 people signed up to the campaign which launched in Glasgow on Monday.
Included in those were carers who had travelled from across the country to explain why they are voting yes.
Former nurse Colleen Kelly, from Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, who had to give up work to care for her son, said: “I am voting yes because our own public healthcare system is significantly better than in other parts of the UK and independence is the best way to protect that.
“Another reason is the way in which Westminster treats disabled and vulnerable people through the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition cuts and austerity programme. I cannot stand back and allow a system so focused on saving money that the welfare of people is allowed to suffer.”
Jenny and Duncan Macgillivray from Dunoon, Argyll, who care for their son Andy, who has severe autism and other complex needs, said: “As parents of a severely disabled child, our greatest fears are for the future. When the time comes that we have to handover the well-being and care of our beloved child to others what sort of life will he be offered? We firmly believe that a yes vote will pave the way for a fairer and more equitable society that will provide better services for vulnerable groups.”
Scotland’s public health minister Michael Matheson has pledged a carers guarantee which commits the Scottish Government to increase carer’s allowance to at least equal the Jobseekers level – which he says is a £575 a year increase in income for over 100,000 carers.
Backing the campaign, Matheson said: “Scotland’s carers do a fantastic job and deserve the right support. With a Yes vote, future Scottish Governments will be able to ensure carers are no longer seen as second class by a Westminster welfare system that doesn’t recognise their hard work.
“It simply doesn’t make sense that the Westminster system gives carers providing full time care to ill or disabled relatives less support than those who are hunting for work.”
A Better Together spokesperson said: "Those with the least would lose the most with independence. The impartial experts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies have said that a separate Scotland would face £6 billion worth of extra public spending cuts. These extra cuts would hit the most vulnerable people in Scotland.
"As part of the UK we can pool and share our resources across an economy of more than 63 million, rather than just five million people in Scotland. That secures more support for carers.
"We can have what the majority of Scots want for our country. We can have more powers for Scotland without taking on all the risks of independence. It's the best of both worlds. We should say no thanks to putting that at risk on September 18."
Carers for Yes - The Declaration
Unpaid carers and young carers in Scotland provide the equivalent of over £10 billion of care andsupport for people with disabilities, illness or long term conditions.
Thesepeople are our mums, dads, husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters,relatives, neighbours and friends. As such, our future is tied up with theirs –our lives are intertwined. The hopes and fears of our loved ones mirror ourown.
We see daily attacks from a Westminster system which seems content toundermine people with disabilities. The Work Capability Assessment, thereduction in disability benefits, the lack of willingness to tackle thepittance that is Carers’ Allowance – all of these policies are markers on ajourney which will leave society as a whole impoverished.
Not everything isperfect in Scotland – let’s not pretend that it is. We have to fight almostevery day for services and support; carers are expected to pick up theincreasing gap in care, but with no real rights of our own. We are not alwaystreated as equal partners in care. What we hope for our loved ones, we alsowish for ourselves – the chance to shine, the opportunity to achieve our owndreams and ambitions.
However, we approach the referendum with real hope for abetter and more equal future. When people who have not had the chance to thriveare demonised politically and in the media, we cannot stand back and donothing. Here is a chance to draw a line in the sand, and set out on a new journeywhere all of us matter, where we all contribute to society.
Some of us havelong believed in the potential of Independence to achieve that better future.Others have come to share that view as the referendum campaign has progressed.All of us believe that the best people to take decisions on Scotland's behalfare those who have the greatest stake in the outcome - that is, all of us wholive and work in Scotland. That includes unpaid carers.
We do not believe thatour loved ones will thrive or get to live the lives they deserve if we remainunder the control of Westminster. We believe that Scotland has the opportunityto forge a new path. As we approach the referendum, here is what we hope for inan independent Scotland:
- Our aspiration is that Scotland will be trulyinclusive and accessible to all, regardless of ability. We want Scotland toenshrine a right to independent living, and ensure unpaid carers have anunequivocal right to a life of our own. We want to see a written constitutionwhich reflects these values and aspirations.
- We want to play a full part in developing a newsocial security system which protects our families and those we care for; asystem which values and pays carers and enables them to take part in the labourmarket or prepare for work in the future.
- With control over benefits and employmentprogrammes, we can create a new system of support which does not leave thepeople we care for and love isolated from their communities. We dare to hopefor a care and support revolution. We want to see investment in and real valueplaced on social care to help people to live independently; an education systemwhich empowers our children to achieve their aspirations. We want systems andservices to work together – to see assessments reduced, and much less bureaucracy. We want to be treated as equal partners in care.
- With the combined resources of reserved anddevolved services, we want action to tackle the enduring poverty faced bypeople with disabilities and their families. Carers themselves face poverty atalmost every turn; the choice to care should not mean having to give up paidwork or your own hopes and career. It should not mean being dependent on just£61.35 per week – Carers Allowance is the lowest of all income replacement benefits.
Caring will touch all of us at some point in our lives.So, we can choose to continue on our current path or we can VOTE YES to createa new future where people with disabilities are valued as equal citizens andare able to live full and wonderful lives; where unpaid carers are able to makechoices about how they live their lives; a future where we shape the policiesand legislation which will create a caring, thriving, independent country.
Forall of these reasons, we pledge our vote for independence for Scotland. We askyou to consider voting yes – not just for your own future, but for all of us.