Unpaid carers’ rights have been given a boost with new legislation that came into force at the beginning of the month.

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 is designed to support carers’ health and wellbeing and make caring “more sustainable”.

The number of unpaid carers in West Dunbartonshire is in the thousands, according to Carers of West Dunbartonshire, who offer a range of support services.

Both the charity and Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie have welcomed the legislation, with carer services manager at Carers of West Dunbartonshire Kim McNab heralding it “significant”.

Ms McNab said: “There are approximately 10,000 unpaid carers in West Dunbartonshire, who are looking after some of the most vulnerable people within our community.

“The care that they provide often goes unrecognised and they regularly miss out on vital support.

“The act will ensure that carers have greater rights and that they are more involved in planning care for themselves and the person that they care for.”

As of April 1, measures of the Act include a duty for local authorities to provide support to carers based on their identified needs which meet the local eligibility criteria, and a requirement for local authorities to have an information and advice service for carers.

Issues that the service should provide information on include carers’ rights, emergency and future care planning, advocacy, and income maximisation.

Ms Baillie said: “The law should end the postcode lottery of support for carers, but it needs to be accompanied by additional resources for local authorities to ensure that they fulfil their duty to provide support, information and advice for carers right across Scotland.

“Carers in West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond are the unsung heroes of our community”

A West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) spokesperson said: “We have been working with carers over the past year in preparation for the enactment of the new Act and have used it as an opportunity to refresh and reinvigorate our approach