I am delighted as Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People to lay the regulations for the Young Carer Grant (YCG). This marks the introduction of a completely new benefit to support young carers in Scotland.
Young carers make an invaluable contribution to society. At a time when young people might be finishing school and undertaking new opportunities through work, study and travel, opportunities for young carers can be limited by their caring responsibilities. YCG, alongside a range of other measures contained within the Carers Act, will help improve the quality of life of young carers and will promote a wider range of life opportunities to ensure that this group is treated with dignity and respect.
I would like to thank the Scottish Commission on Social Security (SCoSS) and the Disability and Carer Benefit Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG) for their reports and recommendations on YCG draft regulations. I welcome the opportunity to respond to the points raised and to explain the changes that have been made to the policy as a result.
The consultation on the draft regulations for YCG, which ran from 17 September to 10 December 2018, built on significant engagement with stakeholders. I welcome the opportunity to respond to the points raised in the consultation. Ensuring that we design YCG with and for young carers, we have worked closely with organisations and individuals and in keeping with the principles of the Social Security (Scotland) Act.
YCG is a new benefit for young carers in Scotland. We are investing in young people at a critical point in their lives through the grant and with a range of additional entitlements such as a free bus travel. Social security is a human right and YCG has been designed to be accessible both in terms of eligibility and the systems which will support it. It has been designed to respect the dignity of the individuals by reducing the intrusive questioning where possible while still maintaining a consistent decision making system. The Scottish social security system is to contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland and YCG eligibility has been designed to reach young carers in poverty and at risk of falling into poverty. Extensive modelling, desk research and user testing has provided us with a good evidence base for our policy decisions to ensure they have been designed with the people of Scotland.
The consultation responses and the recommendations of SCoSS and DACBEAG have helped us make final policy decisions and guide the development of IT systems and processes which are needed to make YCG a reality.
We are committed to providing carers with the right support at the right time. YCG will support around 2,400 young carers annually to ensure they do not miss out on opportunities available to other young people in Scotland.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to submit their views.
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP,
Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People