This section presents the findings of the evaluation in terms of the achievement of Young Carer Grant against short-term and medium-term policy objectives. In doing so, it also highlights the likely contribution of Young Carer Grant to wider long-term government outcomes for carers. It also discusses the policy implications identified through the qualitative research.
Achievement against short-term policy outcomes
This section assesses Young Carer Grant against the following policy outcomes:
- Carers feel the application process is clear and easy
- Payments are administered well
- Payments are made to as many eligible carers as possible
- Carers feel they have been treated with fairness, dignity and respect
- Carers have a positive experience of Social Security Scotland
It uses data from Official Statistics, Social Security Scotland research and the commissioned research.
Carers feel the application process is clear and easy
The application process has been detailed above. Official statistics show that of the 5,390 applications received up to 30 April 2021, around 94% were made online. Around 3% were made through telephone applications. The remaining 2% were made through paper application.
Findings from the Client Survey suggest that out of 70-71 Young Carer Grant respondents:
- 97% said their experience of the application process overall was 'very good' or 'good'
- 90% 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that the application process was clear
- 86% 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that the application asked only relevant questions
Young carers involved in the commissioned research generally found the application process to be easy and straightforward. Those who had experience of applying for other financial support felt the Young Carer Grant process was easier in comparison.
Young carers typically applied online and found this to be convenient and accessible.
When asked if there were any difficult parts of the application process, recipients mentioned that the length of the application could be off-putting for some and there were some questions where they had to get input from their parents or the person they cared for. However, neither of these were seen, by recipients, as major deterrents to applying.
Stakeholders though, provided further evidence that difficulties with the application process could be a barrier to many other young carers, specifically those living in chaotic households where it is difficult for them to find the information they need in order to apply. One non-recipient in this study also explained that they did not complete their application because of difficulties meeting application deadlines.
There was a view among participants who had applied more than once that subsequent applications were quicker because they could carry over some information from their original application. However, there was a suggestion among both young carers and stakeholders that this process could be streamlined further, for example, by being able to save evidence submitted as part of the initial application in a portal.
The extent to which young carers relied on support to apply for the grant was mixed. While there were participants who completed their application independently, it was common for members of young carer organisations to be proactive in offering advice and support. Stakeholders reported a high degree of variability in the amount of support they had to provide to young carers engaging in the application process.
There were mixed experiences among participants who identified as having a learning or processing difficulties. One participant with dyslexia found the application easier than they were expecting, while another who said he had difficulty with reading and writing found the idea of applying on his own intimidating. Stakeholders indicated that young carers with learning difficulties often needed extra support.
Payments are administered well
Official statistics provide some information on processing times, calculated by determining the time between an application being received and a decision being made or the application being withdrawn. This includes the time spent waiting to receive evidence from clients to allow a decision to be made, which should be considered when interpreting these processing times.
Statistics show that of the 5,390 applications received up to 30 April 2021, 5,155 had been processed. Around 38% of applications with a decision by 30 April 2021 were processed within 10 working days, around 57% within 15 working days, and around 31% took 21 days or longer to be processed. The median average processing time was 13 working days.
Findings from the Client Survey suggest that out of 70 - 71 Young Carer Grant respondents:
- 83% 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that their application was handled within a reasonable time frame
- 71% 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that they got enough updates on the progress of their application
Out of 19 - 33 Young Carer Grant respondents to the Client Survey:
- 97% rated their experience of receiving social security payments as 'very good' or 'good'
- 88% said they got payments when Social Security Scotland said they would
- 97% said that they were paid the right amount 'first time'
- 89% said they were paid the right amount 'every time'
Payments are made to as many eligible carers as possible
The best way to assess the performance against this outcome would be to use estimates of take-up expressed as the number of people who received a benefit payment among all those eligible for that benefit (including those who did not apply).
Estimating take-up rates for carer benefits is challenging due to the difficulty in identifying the size of the carer population who do not claim. This is difficult due to the complexity of eligibility criteria which are based on the hours of care given and the cared for person's receipt of disability benefit. For Young Carer Grant these challenges are more pronounced because the benefit targets a much smaller sub-group of general population (aged 16 to 18) which further limits the ability to identify the total eligible population through population surveys.
Official statistics show that of the 5,155 Young Carer Grant applications processed up to 30 April 2021, 71% were authorised, 26% were denied, and 2% were withdrawn.
Preliminary investigation into management information revealed that applications denied frequently failed the following eligibility:
- The applicant must be caring for an average of 16 hours per week, over a 13-week period
- The applicant must not have been approved for Young Carer Grant within the last year
By failing the latter eligibility criteria, it means the applicant had already been approved for a Young Carer Grant payment within the last year.
Management information collected manually by the Client Experience team at Social Security Scotland indicates that 90 re-determinations were requested by 30 April 2021. This represents around 1.7% of the total number of Young Carer Grant applications processed during this period. By 30 April 2021, 85 re-determination requests had been decided. Of these, 40 were allowed or partially allowed, while 30 were denied and 15 were withdrawn.
In total, 3,615 payments were issued up to 30 April 2021. The total number of clients who have received payment was 2,945. Of these, 2,280 clients had received one payment and 670 clients had received two payments.
Applications were received from young people living in all local authorities. At local authority level, the highest total payments value of £156,261 were made to young carers in Glasgow City, £89,784 to North Lanarkshire, and £70,713 to Fife.
Further analysis of the data for the period from 21 October 2019 to 30 April 2021 was undertaken to show the number of payments issued by SIMD 2020 quintile. It shows that just under 60% of payments were made to those living in the 40% most deprived areas (quintiles 1 or 2).
|SIMD 2020 Quintile||Total payments issued|
Official Statistics also provides information about the characteristics and caring circumstances of applicants.
Of the 5,390 applications received, approximately 39% were for an applicant aged 16 years. A further 38% were for an applicant aged 17 years, and 21% were for an applicant aged 18 years.
Social Security Scotland client diversity and equalities analysis covering June 2020 to November 2020 also provides a view of people with protected characteristics who applied for Young Carer Grant over the period of benefit delivery. The figures summarised below refer to those who have applied for Young Carer Grant payments but some may have been denied a payment. Detailed information on the number of applicants approved and denied by the equalities groups is available in the official publication. The headline figures on applicants only are:
- 92% (1,230) of applicants identified themselves as 'White', 4% (50) as Asian, 1% (20) as Mixed or multiple ethnic groups, and 2% (25) preferred not to say. Those identifying as African, Caribbean or Black, or another ethnic group made up less than 1%.
- 57% (760) of applicants identified themselves as women, 41% (545) as men, 2% (25) preferred not to say, and 1% (10) identified in another way. This is slightly different to the caseload for Carer's Allowance where 69% are women and 31% men but similar to clients on Carers' Allowance in Scotland aged 16 to 18 (55% women and 45% men).
- 15% (195) of applicants identified themselves as having a physical or mental condition or illness lasting or expected to last 12 months or more. 7% (95) preferred not to say.
- 83% (1,105) of applicants identified themselves as heterosexual, 5% (70) as bisexual, 3% (35) as gay and lesbian. 1% (10) identified in another way and 9% (115) preferred not to say.
- 2% (20) of applicants identified themselves as transgender and 2% (30) preferred not say.
- 65% of applicants (865) did not identify with any religion while 5% preferred not to say. 13% (170) identified as Roman Catholic, 10% (135) as Church of Scotland, 3% (35) as other Christian, 4% (50) as Muslim, and other religious groups made up less than 1%.
The Client Survey shows that 99% of respondents (out of 68) agreed with application decisions made by Social Security Scotland on their applications.
The commissioned research explored barriers to applying for Young Carer Grant. Young carers and stakeholders identified a lack of awareness of the grant as a major barrier to those eligible to apply. There was a view that the grant was not widely known about, and this would especially affect 'hidden carers' who were not engaged with young carer services.
There was a suggestion that the grant could be advertised more, particularly on social media. Stakeholders emphasised the importance of using inclusive language when promoting the grant, in order to reach eligible young people who may not identify as young carers themselves.
Among recipients, there could be some initial reluctance to take up the grant due to how they perceived themselves and their caring role. For example, a perception that other people needed the money more than they did or not wanting their cared-for person to be seen as a 'burden' they had to be compensated for.
Stakeholders highlighted that a lack of consent from parents or the cared-for person could be a barrier. They thought the main reasons for a lack of consent were a fear that receipt of Young Carer Grant would affect other family members' benefit entitlements, a fear of social services becoming involved, or not accepting a young person's carer status. Stakeholders explained that cultural values may mean some minority ethnic families are less likely to accept or fully understand the term 'young carer'.
Carers feel they have been treated with fairness, dignity and respect
Findings from the Client Survey suggest that out of 69 - 71 Young Carer Grant respondents:
- 94% felt that Social Security Scotland had treated them fairly
- 94% felt that Social Security Scotland had treated them with respect
- 93% felt that Social Security Scotland had treated them with dignity
- 1% felt that they had been discriminated against at some point during their experience with Social Security Scotland
Commissioned research explored the impact of the requirement that only one young carer can receive the grant in respect of any one cared-for person, referred to as the 'one carer rule'. Although none of the participants had missed out on the grant due to this rule, they raised concerns that it was unfair to carers who may still have demanding care role, despite sharing responsibility with another young carer.
One recipient explained that the rule would have been a barrier for her, had her brother not agreed to let her apply instead of him because he had a job and more money than she did. More generally, there was a suggestion that younger siblings or less confident young carers would be disproportionately disadvantaged as a result of this rule.
There was also concern among stakeholders that the eligibility criteria for receiving the grant were excluding too many young carers with significant caring responsibilities. These concerns centred predominantly on the requirement that the cared-for person be in receipt of particular benefits.
Carers have a positive experience of Social Security Scotland
The Client Survey's highest level question asked respondents how they would rate their overall experience with Social Security Scotland. Out of 71 respondents 97% said that their overall experience was 'very good' or 'good'. None said their experience was 'poor' or 'very poor'.
In addition, of 69 - 71 Young Carer Grant respondents to the Client Survey:
- 83% felt that they could trust Social Security Scotland
- 83% felt that Social Security Scotland was an honest organisation
Achievement against medium-term policy outcomes
This section assesses Young Carer Grant against the following policy outcomes:
- Carers are better off financially
- Carers can engage in opportunities that are the norm for their non-caring peers
- Carers feel a sense choice and control
- Carers feel the grant has had a positive impact on their lives
- Carers feel they have been recognised for the care they provide
It uses data from Official Statistics, Social Security Scotland research and the commissioned research.
Carers are better off financially
The total value of Young Carer Grant payments issued up to 30 April 2021 was £1.1 million. Of this, £339,900 was issued in financial year 2019/20, £694,725 was issued in financial year 2020/21 and the remaining £61,810 issued in the current 2021/22 financial year.
On 1 April 2021, the value of payment for Young Carer Grant was uprated from £305.10 to £308.15. Successful applications received before 1 April 2021 will still receive a payment of £305.10.
Young Carers participating in the commissioned research made few comments on the amount of the grant although there was a view that it "could be more". Stakeholders acknowledged that there were limited funds but some also felt that a larger amount would have more impact (one suggested around £600).
Carers can engage in opportunities that are the norm for their non-caring peers
Commissioned research indicated that Young Carer Grant had a positive impact on young carers' ability to take part in opportunities that are the norm for their non-caring peers.
Young carers that participated used the grant in a wide range of ways and in very much the same ways as teenagers in general tend to spend their money: on clothes, socialising with friends, putting it into savings (for driving lessons, for example), on electronic devices, on hobbies and on presents for family. More exceptionally, they spent it on rent or food.
If they had not received the grant, participants generally indicated that they would have had to go without all or some of the things they purchased and missed out on the activities they had been able to take part in.
Carers feel a sense choice and control
Respondents to the Client Survey were asked about the impact that benefit payments from Social Security Scotland have had for them - on a scale of zero ('not at all') to ten ('a lot') and results were categorised into the following average ratings:
- Helped to control finances - 7.2 rating
- Helped to pay for what was needed - 8.3 rating
There was also evidence in the commissioned research of the grant helping to increase young carers' sense of choice and control over their lives. Most immediately, participants were generally clear that it was up to them how they spent the grant, and that, in the absence of the grant, they would have had to go without all or some of the things they purchased. More broadly, there was also evidence of it increasing young carers' sense of control over their lives, by making them feel more independent, more confident, less anxious and getting better at saving.
Carers feel the grant has had a positive impact on their lives
Respondents to the Client Survey gave the following rating when asked about the overall difference social security payments had made to their lives:
- Helped make a difference to life - 8.3 rating (based on 33 responses)
Almost all participants involved in the commissioned research reported a positive (albeit not necessarily a very large) impact on their mental wellbeing, mainly by reducing stress and increasing confidence.
The impact on young carers' physical health was somewhat limited but there were examples of participants spending some of their grant on things that would benefit it - such as exercise equipment, gym membership and dance classes.
More indirectly, stakeholders participating in the commissioned research felt that the grant had the potential to open up access to other support (by encouraging people to find out if they were young carers; through sign-posting applicants to other services; and by encouraging applications for other support in the future).
However, there is a limit to what a financial payment can do and the grant had no direct impact on some of the negative aspects of being a young carer that were most commonly mentioned by participants.
One of the main challenges of being a young carer is the lack of time to relax, do their own thing and spend time with friends. Although the grant gave recipients the opportunity to take part in some activities with friends that they would not otherwise have been able to afford, and to treat themselves during their limited free time, it could not fundamentally increase the amount of free time they have available.
Young carers also had anxieties about the health of their cared-for person. Depending on the condition, these might be on-going concerns such as whether they might have a seizure, longer-term concerns about their health worsening or simply the difficulty of seeing someone they love being in pain and not being able to do anything about it. While, for some young carers, the grant did help reduce other specific stresses or have a positive impact on feelings of wellbeing more generally, it could not be expected to reduce these types of concerns.
Carers feel they have been recognised for the care they provide
Young carers had mixed views on whether receiving the grant had helped them feel more recognised. Some felt that it had made no difference but, more commonly, young carers did feel that it had helped at least a little. There was a sense in which both the introduction and existence of the grant, and the fact that they had been deemed eligible to receive it, provided recognition and validation.
Evidence of positive progress towards wider long-term outcomes for carers
This section will focus on the following wider government outcomes for carers:
- Carers can participate fully in society and have a life outside of caring
- Carers have a sense of control and empowerment over their lives
- Carers feel supported to look after their own health and wellbeing
- Carers feel that they have a good quality of life
- Carers feel recognised by society for the role they provide
These outcomes relate to the way in which wider government support has impacted on the lives of carers. As outlined in the Methodology chapter, it is difficult to evaluate the impact of Young Carer Grant on these outcomes. Not only will these long-term outcomes take time to determine, but the contribution of Young Carer Grant is difficult to measure and attribute given wider factors feeding in to achievement against these outcomes.
Nonetheless, we can expect that if success has been achieved against the short and medium-term policy outcomes, this might have a positive contributory impact on the wider outcomes for carers in the long term.
Across all data sources, the evaluation findings suggest that Young Carer Grant was welcomed and viewed broadly positively by applicants, recipients and stakeholders. It also appears to be meeting its overall aims: to help young carers improve their own quality of life by taking part in opportunities which are the norm for their non-caring peers and to provide some recognition of their unpaid caring role.
However, findings from the comissioned research suggested that there is a limit to what a financial payment can do, and the grant had no direct impact on some of the negative aspects of being a young carer, which influence these wider outcomes.
Implications of evaluation findings.
As part of the commissioned qualitative research, Ipsos MORI were asked to outline any implications that their research findings may have for future policy development. They are available in the full qualitative report in Annex A.
The two considerations below relate to the promotion of the grant and how the grant is understood by young carers.
Raising awareness of Young Carer Grant: Stakeholders highlighted that a lack of awareness of the grant was a particular barrier for 'hidden carers' who are not engaged with support services. Young carers and stakeholders both suggested improved advertising, specifically on social media. There was also a strong appetite for more promotion in schools.
Tackling misconceptions and providing reassurance: There were a number of misconceptions about the grant and the eligibility criteria which might deter some young carers from applying and might deter their parents from assisting or encouraging them. Clarification and reassurance about the following points in promotional materials and on the website could increase uptake: reinforcing the fact that it is entirely up to the young carer how they spend the money and that there is no need to produce receipts or explain and justify how they have spent it; providing reassurances that receipt of Young Carer Grant would have no impact on other benefits received by the young carer or their cared-for person; reinforcing the fact that the grant is available to 16, 17 and 18 year olds.In addition, there were cultural barriers among some minority ethnic communities both in terms of seeing someone as a 'young carer' and accessing support. Stakeholders highlighted a general need to provide culturally sensitive services and information, including on Young Carer Grant.
Social Security Scotland continues to promote Young Carer Grant to help increase awareness and take up of the grant. The findings from this report will be used to improve the impact of this work when considering future promotion.
The findings also highlighted how young carers applied and how their applications are treated may be improved to increase accessibility of the grant and reduce the negative impact to young carers who may not be eligible for Young Carer Grant.
Simplifying the application process: While the application form itself was seen as relatively straightforward, there also a suggestion that it could be simplified further. It was noted that the current wording is similar to the Carer's Allowance form, but Young Carer Grant is a different kind of benefit and could be less formal and more 'young person friendly'. Stakeholders highlighted that this was an important consideration to make the grant as accessible as possible for those with learning difficulties or those for whom English is not their first language.
There was a view among participants who had applied more than once that subsequent applications were quicker because they could carry over some information from their original application. They felt it would be beneficial to make young carers aware of this, to make them more likely to reapply for Young Carer Grant in future. There was also a suggestion that the process could be streamlined further for subsequent applications, for example, being able to save evidence submitted as part of the initial application.
Sensitive handling of unsuccessful applications: While a successful application made some young carers feel more recognised, there was a concern from a stakeholder that it may have the opposite effect on people who apply but find they are not eligible - they may feel less recognised than they did before. Moreover, the experience may discourage them for applying for other forms of support in the future. It is therefore very important that unsuccessful applications are handled sensitively and applicants understand that, while they may not (currently) be eligible for grant, there are other services available for young carers and they should not be deterred from accessing them. This would also be an opportunity to sign-post to other services.
Social Security Scotland collects its own data from clients around their experience of applying for support. The evaluation findings will be used alongside this data when reviewing the application in future.
Ipsos MORI also identified implications for certain areas of Young Carer Grant policy.
Reviewing the 'one carer rule': While there was an acknowledgement that there is a limited amount of money, the one carer rule was generally seen as unfair by young carers and stakeholders and a deterrence to applying. There was a suggestion that younger siblings or less confident young carers would be disadvantaged (because older and/or more confident siblings would establish a right to the grant first). The young carer who misses out on the grant may feel less valued (possibly less valued than they felt before they were aware of the grant) and this could lead them to believe they are less of a young carer than the person who successfully applied for the grant, or question their young carer status entirely – with reduced confidence in their carer status discouraging them for applying for support as a carer in the future.
Reviewing the benefits criteria: There was concern among stakeholders that the requirement that the cared-for person is in receipt of certain benefits was excluding too many young carers with significant caring responsibilities. Stakeholders highlighted that benefits may not always be a reliable measure of how much somebody relies on support from a young carer. There was a view that the benefits requirement could present a particular barrier to minority ethnic young carers, as people in these communities were less likely to access this kind of disability support.
Review the upper age limit: Stakeholders were generally supportive of the age criteria. However, there was a suggestion that young adult carers in full-time education would benefit from receiving Young Carer Grant as they would not be eligible for Carer's Allowance.
To keep the application process as easy and unobtrusive as possible only one young carer can apply per cared for person, known as the 'one carer rule'. The Scottish Government has continued to monitor how this rule has affected young carers. Any changes to the eligibility will need to ensurethe application remains easily accessible. We will consider whether it would be possible or desirable to extend entitlement to young people caring for a person not entitled to a disability entitlement, where all the other rules for Young Carer Grant are met.
The final of the three recommendations on policy development also relates to the current support provided by Carer's Allowance. The Scottish Government is currently developing the Scottish replacement for Carer's Allowance and these findings will be considered along with how Young Carer Grant interacts with this new benefit.
The last consideration does not only relate to Young Carer Grant but more to the wider support available to carers outside of social security.
Broader implications: One of the main challenges of being a young carer is the lack of time to relax, 'do their own thing' and spend time with friends. Although the grant gave recipients the opportunity to take part in some activities with friends that they would not otherwise have been able to afford, and to treat themselves during their limited free time, it could not fundamentally increase the amount of free time they have available. This points to a broader need to provide young carers with regular opportunities for respite – not necessarily for any great length of time – so that they have a chance to 'do their own thing' (which may be at home or outside the home) and relax, knowing that their cared-for person is safe.
The Scottish Government brought forward the Carers Act to enhance and extend the rights of all carers to support across the country. This includes every young carer's right to a Young Carer Statement to identify what is important to them. This must include information on the impact of caring on their wellbeing and whether the care provided is appropriate.
It is crucial that all young carers are supported to have a life alongside caring, and that they are able to sustain and improve their own health and wellbeing. All young carers are encouraged to speak to their local Young Carer Service who can support them with balancing time for themselves and their caring duties. The Scottish Government is in regular touch with young carer representatives to make sure the concerns of young carers are understood and acted on accordingly.
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