Package of help includes new Young Carer Grant.
A new Young Carer Grant – worth £300 a year – will be part of a new package of support for young carers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today on a visit to the Edinburgh Young Carers Project.
The grant will be awarded to young carers aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week, but do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance. It will help to improve young carers’ quality of life, assisting them to take part in employment, social or leisure opportunities.
The full package of support will be delivered throughout the course of this parliament. It will also include adding more entitlements and rewards for 11-18-year-old young carers to the Young Scot National Entitlement Card – which gives non-cash benefits to young people. Young Scot will work with young carers groups to develop the scheme.
At a later date, everyone receiving the Young Carer Grant will also be given a pass for free bus travel. This is in response to concerns that some young carers feel isolated by their caring responsibilities, and can find it difficult to meet transport costs.
The First Minister said:
“This government has always been strongly committed to enhancing carers’ rights and providing them with the right support at the right time.
“The package of support I am announcing today, including the Young Carer Grant, will give valuable extra help to this group of people. It comes in addition to a range of other measures, including the support contained in the Carers Act, which enshrines carers’ rights in law for the first time.
“Young carers make an invaluable contribution to society. The additional grant and free bus travel, along with new legislation and our ambitious changes to the social security system, will help ensure they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Meg Wright, Director of Carers Trust Scotland said
“We are delighted that the Scottish Government recognises the important contribution that young carers make across Scotland. Many young carers have difficulty participating in the normal activities their peers can enjoy. The Young Carer Grant will help young carers to pursue more of their aspirations and reduce social isolation through having the means to travel more widely.”
For the purposes of the Young Carer Grant, a young carer is someone with caring responsibilities aged 16 to 17, or 18 and still at school.
Work to further help young carers through the Young Scot National Entitlement Card will start in April 2018 and the scheme will be rolled out from April 2019. This will be followed by the Young Carer Grant in autumn 2019. Following pilot studies to examine technical options, free bus travel will be implemented in 2020-2021.
Advice from the Young Carers Allowance working group was that the grant, alongside other measures, should help young carers improve their quality of life and take part in activity that is the norm for other young people. This might include contributing towards the cost of driving lessons, or leisure and respite activities.
Carer’s Allowance is awarded to all carers aged 16 and over who carry out at least 35 hours of caring a week.
Today’s announcement complements the commitment to increase Carer’s Allowance in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance. This will come into effect next summer and be backdated to April 2018, with further increases for families supporting more than one disabled child also planned.
The Carers Act 2016 will take effect on 1 April 2018 and includes more support for young carers. This includes the right to a young carer statement from the local authority – a document setting out the young carer’s circumstances and support needs.