Carers in Scotland are “reaching breaking point” as they struggle to take even a day away from their responsibilities for years at a time, research has found.

Carers UK surveyed 648 unpaid carers in Scotland and 22% said they had not had one day away from caring in five years.

The charity has called for immediate action, including more funding ring-fenced to ensure breaks for carers.

Ministers said new legislation was designed to support carers’ well-being.

A Scottish government spokesman said the Carers (Scotland) Act due to be introduced in April next year includes “a duty on local authorities to provide support to carers who meet the local eligibility criteria and to consider whether a break from caring is required”.

The survey by Carers UK came as new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 8% of the UK private household population are informal carers for another person.

The Carers UK study found that more than a third (35%) had not had a break in more than a year and, of these, about three-quarters reported a deterioration in their health, both mental (77%) and physical (71%).

Carers in Scotland said breaks were the top factor able to make a difference to their health and well-being but only 16% were currently accessing them through services such as respite or alternative care.

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