This section introduces Young Carer Grant, the rationale behind its implementation, the eligibility criteria, the application process, and the overall evaluation aims relevant to this report.
Young Carer Grant: Description and policy context
The Social Security powers that have been devolved through the Scotland Act 2016 give the Scottish Parliament responsibility for £2.8 billion of social security expenditure (around 15% of total benefit expenditure in Scotland) which are enacted though the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018.
The Young Carer Grant is one of the new benefits implemented with the use of those devolved powers. It forms part of the strategic commitment to carers both in terms of social security support and wider government support for carers. Announced by the First Minister in 2017 as part of a package of support for young carers, it is a one off payment (£308.15 in 2021/22), which can be applied for annually, for young people aged 16, 17 or 18 with caring responsibilities. It was launched in October 2019.
Along with Young Carer Grant, in June 2019 the Young Scot young carers platform was launched. This provides all young carers aged 11-18 with access to extra discounts at shops and venues along with other exclusive benefits. The Scottish Government also committed that recipients of Young Carer Grant would have access to free bus travel. The Scottish Government, elected in 2021, is working towards providing free bus travel to all residents of Scotland aged 21 and under from 31 January 2022. This will allow all young carers aged 21 and under to access free bus travel.
The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 made provisions that mean every young carer in Scotland has the right to a Young Carer Statement. These are carried out by local authorities and identify the personal circumstances of each young carer and what support the young carer may need.
Young Carer Grant: Rationale for implementation
The Scottish Government has an overall aim that carers are supported on a consistent basis to allow them to continue caring, if that is their wish, in good health and wellbeing, allowing for a life of their own outside of caring.
Research has shown that many young carers are more likely to be living in low income households, feel socially isolated and have poorer physical and mental health and wellbeing than non-carers. Young people aged 16, 17 and 18 are often at transition point in their lives as they move into the adult world. They may be finishing school, getting a first job, undertaking further study or taking up new leisure opportunities. For many young people with caring responsibilities, their opportunities may be limited by their caring role.
The overall aims of Young Carer Grant are to:
- help young carers improve their own quality of life by taking part in opportunities which are the norm for their non-caring peers
- provide some recognition of their unpaid caring role
Young Carer Grant: Eligibility
To be eligible for the payment carers must be 16, 17 or 18 years old. They also must have been caring for an average of 16 hours a week for someone normally in receipt of one or more of the qualifying benefits for at least 13 weeks before application. The care cannot be part of a volunteer scheme or as part of a paid job, and the policy intention is that young carers cannot be in receipt of Carer's Allowance.
On 1 April 2020 Young Carer Grant became open to applicants with no recourse to public funds, allowing young carers subject to immigration control to safely apply for Young Carer Grant without risking their immigration status.
If more than one carer applies for the same cared for person, only the first eligible application will get the grant. If the young carer provides shared care with someone else aged 16 to 18, they should agree who should apply for the grant. This policy will be referred to as the "one carer rule" for the remainder of this report.
Young carers can apply if they are at school, in further education, or unemployed and they can spend the grant as they choose
Evidence from stakeholder groups indicates that some young carers (particularly those with LGBT and minority-ethnic protected characteristics) may face barriers in applying for support services.
Young Carer Grant: Application Process
Young carers in Scotland can apply online, over the phone or by post for Young Carer Grant. The application asks the young carer for information about themselves including age, address and National Insurance Number. They are also asked to provide information about the person/people they care for including their address, National Insurance Number, hours they are cared for and the benefit the cared-for person receives.
However, although applicants are asked for the National Insurance Numbers of themselves and the cared-for person, and the qualifying benefit the cared for person receives, it is not necessary to provide this in the application. Social Security Scotland can still verify this information and process the application, but it may increase the time taken.
Once an application has been received the young carer is then asked to provide evidence of their address. This can be posted into Social Security Scotland or uploaded to them online.
Social Security Scotland will write to the cared-for person informing them that someone has applied for Young Carer Grant citing them as their cared-for person. The cared-for person does not need to reply to this letter if they believe everything is correct as Social Security Scotland does not ask for any proof that the care is taking place. If no care is being provided they can contact Social Security Scotland and let them know.
Young carers with a genuine and sufficient link to Scotland living outside the UK in the European Economic Area and Switzerland can also apply for Young Carer Grant over the phone or by post. They are required to provide more evidence to show that they are eligible for a Scottish benefit and to confirm their identity.
All applicants can also ask for a reminder to be sent after 12 months reminding them that they may be able to apply for the next year's payment. This is optional so only young carers who think they will be eligible for Young Carer Grant in 12 months receive this reminder.
The Scottish Government published their approach to evaluating the first of the devolved social security benefits, including Young Carer Grant, in November 2019.
This interim evaluation aims to provide learning about the overall implementation of the benefit over the first 18 months of delivery, and the extent to which the short and medium-term objectives of Young Carer Grant have been met. In doing so, it can also assess the likely contribution of Young Carer Grant to longer-term government outcomes for carers which take account of wider Scottish Government interventions outside of social security which are also designed to support carers.
Specifically, the evaluation objectives are to:
1. Evaluate the extent to which Young Carer Grant achieved its policy objectives
2. Assess the likely contribution of Young Carer Grant to wider long-term government outcomes for carers
3. Discuss any implications for future policy development
The findings will provide groundwork for policy improvement and feed into the development for the full evaluation of Young Carer Grant scheduled for 2023/2024. This full evaluation will take place once the benefit has been live for at least three years, by which time eligible carers may have received three separate grants and the full impact of the grant can be better assessed. At this point, we are only reporting on the impact of the initial payments.
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