After online and in-person pressure from campaigners, the Scottish Government has announced that it will now develop regulations to ensure that voluntary carers for people with disabilities or debilitating illnesses are not charged for support services.
Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health said last week that he will "issue regulations that will make clear that all charges for support to carers should be waived in whole. So, to be abundantly clear, carers will not be charged for the support they receive."
There are over 600,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, and there was a danger that a loophole would force many to face charges from local authorities for vital support services.
The Minister's commitment came on Wednesday 28 November 2012, during the Scottish Parliament debate on the Social Care Scotland Bill.
Campaigner Heather McNaughton-Wilford told online supporters today (1 December): "Our voices really did make a difference. When I was first in touch with the Minister I didn't get much of a response, but that all changed when the petition on Change.org started, and 4,780 people signed. Thousands of emails were also sent to the Minister for Public Health. This gave a huge boost to all the efforts of carers' organisations in the vital days before the vote."
Fiona Collie, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Carers Scotland said: "Carers have been vital in achieving these improvements... their lobbying and campaigning throughout the passage of the Bill, including sharing their experiences with MSPs, has been instrumental in securing these important measures which we hope will improve their lives. They should be rightly proud."
The National Carer Organisations group has said they will work with carers, the Scottish Government and others to ensure that all of the provisions in the Act best meet the needs of carers in Scotland when it comes into operation.