Young Carer’s Allowance considered as Scottish Young Carers Festival ends

04/08/2016
Stuart Rodger

Scottish Government consider the policy as report finds 40 per cent of young carers “hide” responsibilities

The Scottish Government has restated its consideration of creating a Young Carer’s Allowance to help young carers with the financial pressure of their caring responsibilities.

Speaking as the Scottish Young Carers Festival ends today, Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman said: “It is unfair that some young people who have the responsibility and pressure of caring for a loved one may experience financial difficulties. That is why we will now consider whether a Young Carer’s Allowance could bridge that gap in support.”

Under current UK Government criteria, only 250 people under the age of 18 receive Carer’s Allowance.

“Having representatives from the Scottish Government is a key part of the festival. It gives young carers the chance to influence the policies that affect them.” Maxine Finlay

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on a Young Carer’s Allowance, which is part of a wider consultation with the public on how the social security system can be improved as significant new welfare powers come to the Scottish Parliament.

Coinciding with the festival was the publication of a report from the Carers Trust that found that almost 40 per cent of young carers are “hiding” their responsibilities because they fear the response from friends, saying they feared getting bullied or that their friends wouldn’t understand.

The report interviewed 134 young carers in Scotland, and found that around 20 per cent of young carers look after two or more people. It found that 90 per cent were “proud” of being a carer, and that 50 per cent agreed with the statement: “The things I’ve learned will help me when I get older.”

Maxine Finlay, spokesperson for the Carers Trust, said young carers carry out a “massive range” of different responsibilities, doing anything on the spectrum from basic domestic tasks such as cooking and shopping to personal care. This is usually for one of their immediate relatives, with some form of mental or physical illness.

“It is unfair that some young people who have the responsibility and pressure of caring for a loved one may experience financial difficulties.” Jeane Freeman MSP

Commenting on the report’s findings, Finlay said: “The main messages of the survey is that young carers are clearly reluctant to disclose their caring role to their friends. We want young carers to feel that they can always be open about their caring role and to feel supported in the community.”

Talking more about the importance of the Young Carers Festival, which took place in Bromlee in West Linton, she said: “It gives young carers the chance to enjoy three days of fun, to make new friends in the same situation and to speak to decision makers about being a young carer. The festival gives young carers the opportunity to be themselves for a few days, without worrying about what others may think or say.”

Finlay welcomed the attendance of Scottish Government ministers, saying: “Having representatives from the Scottish Government is a key part of the festival. It gives young carers the chance to influence the policies that affect them. We believe that Jeane Freeman MSP, minister for social security, will discuss the possibility of a Young Carer's Allowance with the young carers in attendance.”

Picture courtesy of: First Minister of Scotland / Flickr

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