The Scotland Act 2016 devolved new social security powers to Scotland, including benefits for carers; otherwise referred to as 'carer's assistance'. Scottish Ministers are using these powers to introduce the Young Carer Grant (YCG), which is a new form of financial help for young carers.
On 20 September 2017 the First Minister announced a new package of support for young carers, with the Young Carer Grant as its centrepiece. This wider package of support included:
- a commitment to free bus travel from 2020/2021 for Young Carer Grant recipients (subject to successful piloting);
- a bespoke carer element to the Young Scot National Entitlement card, providing non-cash benefits for young carers aged 11-18 (to be rolled out from April 2019); and
- new support for young carers introduced through the Carers (Scotland) Act (which took effect on 1 April 2018), including the right to a young carer statement, and a duty on local authorities to establish an information and advice service for carers.
The Young Carer Grant aims to provide support during a key transition period in young carers' lives to help improve their health and education outcomes as they move into the adult world. The aim of the Young Carer Grant is to provide a new service of financial assistance to help improve their quality of life and break down barriers, so that young carers can access opportunities that are the norm for many other young people. The draft regulations provide detailed rules relating to the Young Carer Grant, including eligibility, what assistance is available, the value of the payment and when to apply.
Young carers aged 16-17 (and 18 if still at school) with significant caring responsibilities will be eligible for the Young Carer Grant, which will consist of a £300 one-off payment, and can be applied for annually. Under the proposed eligibility, the Scottish Government estimates that the Young Carer Grant will offer support to approximately 1,700 young carers each year.
The Scottish Government launched a public consultation to gather views on the draft YCG regulations, to explore if stakeholders perceived that the best solutions had been presented and that these were in line with the principles of dignity, fairness and respect. It should be stressed that the consultation focused solely on the £300 grant and did not seek to gather views about the proposed free bus travel or the carer element to the Young Scot National Entitlement card.
The Consultation Exercise
The consultation document set out the following:
- An outline of the Young Carer Grant Regulations, which included sections on the application process, eligibility, assistance to be given, and the re-determination process;
- A copy of the Draft Young Carer Grant Regulations; and.
- Impact Assessments for the proposed YCG implementation, including an Equality Impact Assessment, an Impact Assessment for Children's Rights and Wellbeing, and a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment.
A total of 11 questions were asked in relation to the draft regulations. These included more general questions, such as whether the regulations would meet the specified policy aims or have any potential unintended consequences, as well as more specific questions around eligibility, the frequency of applications, whether hours of care for more than one person could be combined to allow an applicant to reach the eligibility threshold, whether more than one applicant could seek a grant when caring for the same person, and issues around re-determination timescales.
The consultation also sought to identify any additional impacts of the draft regulations on people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, in relation to children's rights and wellbeing, and from a business and regulatory perspective, which were not already identified in the consultation document.
Contributions were encouraged from carers and young carers, carer organisations, youth organisations, education professionals, health professionals, local authorities. and any other groups or individuals with a working knowledge of social security, carer and young carer matters and experience of working with regulations.
In addition to the structured consultation document, the Scottish Government also invited contributions via interviews and attendance at targeted events. Responses from these engagement activities were analysed separately and do not form part of this report, which focuses on the responses to the main consultation document only.
The consultation opened on 17 September 2018 and ran for 12 weeks until 10 December 2018.
A total of 75 substantive responses were received, most via the Scottish Government's online portal Citizen Space, but a few submitted directly to the Scottish Government by email. Of the 75 responses, 56 were submitted by individuals and 19 came from organisations.
A total of 11 open questions were included, most of which had both a closed and open component. All questions were answered by at least one respondent. Responses were read and logged into a database, and all were screened to ensure that they were appropriate/valid. None were removed for analysis purposes. Although some responses to individual questions were not appropriate/did not directly address the questions being asked, all feedback was analysed and is presented under the appropriate sections below.
Closed question responses were quantified and the number of respondents who agreed/disagreed with each proposal is reported below. Comments given at each open question were examined and, where questions elicited a positive or negative response, they were categorised as such. For most of the questions, respondents were also asked to state the reasons for their views, or to explain their answers. The main reasons presented by respondents both for and against the proposals set out across the consultation were reviewed, alongside specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions, caveats to support, and other related comments. Verbatim quotes were extracted in some cases to highlight the main themes that emerged. Only extracts where the respondent indicated that they were content for their response to be published were used - six respondents asked that their response not be published and 35 approved publication without reference to their name/affiliation. The remaining 34 were content for their response and identity to be published, although a decision was made to anonymise all responses as part of the reporting process.
Report Presentation and Research Caveats
Findings are presented as they relate to each question contained under the core sections of the consultation document. Where people provided no response, this is noted separately from cases where respondents indicated that they had no further comments.
The tables below show the difference in views expressed by the respondent group as a whole. Given the relatively small number of responses received overall, it was decided that disaggregated analysis by respondent typology would be unreliable, however, in any cases where individual respondents offered views that differed significantly from those submitted by organisations, this is picked up narratively in the report. As a guide, where reference is made in the report to 'few' respondents, this relates to three or less respondents. The term 'several' refers to more than three, but typically less than ten.
Finally, the views presented here should not be taken as representative of the wide range of stakeholders invited to respond to this consultation, nor should they be generalised too broadly. Rather, they reflect the views of those individuals and organisations who responded.