Social Security Experience Panels: Young Carer Grant - initial findings

Findings from the initial research with young carers ahead of the introduction of the new Young Carer Grant.

Eligibility: time spent caring

Some young carers felt that 16 hours per week was a “reasonable” number of hours to spend caring in order to qualify for the grant, and that they would know that that included them or that they do many more hours than that. This included some who said that their caring hours fluctuate. Some felt that this number should be lower (for example 14 hours).

Other young carers felt that they would find it difficult to say how many hours per week they spent caring. Reasons for this included the number of hours fluctuating on a daily or weekly basis, not keeping a record of the hours they spend caring, and finding it difficult to define what would count as “caring”.

Others said that their caring role might change, for example if a sibling leaves home, and they may have to do more/less and wouldn’t know how to factor that in. One scenario that some felt should be clarified was if the person they cared for was taken into hospital – although they would no longer be providing the same care, they felt that the impact of the hospitalisation, and the number of hours spent travelling to the hospital to visit, should be considered.

“If my mum needs to talk to me, I don't set a timer. You're constantly caring, always on alert for silly things like handing a can of juice because they can't get up to get to things themselves. Even when you leave the house you're still on alert in case they call and you need to leave.”

“My role is changing, my sister is about to go to college, so I will have to do more.”

Some said that there are parts of their responsibilities, such as caring for a sibling, or housework, that they wouldn’t see as caring.

“Biggest issue is that some parents don't understand the caring role either”

“I would never have known until I came here.”

A number of young carers spoke about how they discussed their caring role with a worker when joining the young carers group, and that this process helped them to understand how much caring they do. Some said that this sort of support would be helpful in completing the application if this was one of the criteria.

“I thought I did less than 16 hours, but then sat down with my young carers worker and worked out I was doing over 40 hours.”

Some young carers said that it would be helpful to give examples of what counted as caring, including emotional support, but felt that it would be important to be clear that the list isn’t exhaustive, or to include an “other” box. Some suggested that having an open text box for young carers to describe the sort of caring they do on a regular basis may be easier for people to answer than just yes/no questions.

Others had concerns that this might exclude some things that people do as part of their caring role and therefore put people off applying. Some felt that the impact – and in particular emotional impact – on the young person is more important.

“My Dad doesn’t like being alone – I sit and talk to him and that helps him. He doesn’t need me to do practical tasks, but he needs me there.”

“If I’m worrying about it, I tend to think of myself as a carer. It’s about the impact it has on me and my feelings rather than the workload.”

Some participants suggested that this criteria may put off young people who have caring responsibilities who do not identify as a “young carer”, who do not recognise what they do as caring, or who would find it difficult to calculate how much time they spend caring each week – including for the reasons outlined above.

Others felt that the grant should consider the impact of the caring responsibilities, more than the number of hours. Some felt, for example, that caring for someone for 2 hours per day could be just as demanding as caring for someone for 8 hours per day depending on the circumstances.

I don't think it should seem like a barrier - and to me it would seem like a barrier. I think it would put people off applying if it was a criteria


Email: Catherine Henry

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