This briefing looks at informal carers in the UK and the issues they face. It includes information on their rights, benefit entitlement, the support available and an overview of Government policy.
The Commons Library has published a paper on Carers, published in November 2017. The paper provides a picture of the carer population and their issues in the UK, as well as the support available to them.
June 2018 saw the publication of the Government response to the 2016 carers call for evidence and its Carers Action Plan: 2018-2020. Section three of the Action Plan looks specifically at young carers, and below is a brief synopsis of this part of the Plan.
The Government noted in the Action Plan that 67% of young carers responding to the call for evidence had not received any support. Respondents suggested that they would like to see “groups to share experiences, mental health support or counselling, information provision through schools and educational establishments, and flexible educational support and careers planning.” Consequently the Action plan highlights four areas in which the Government is taking action to improve the young carer experience:
Identification of young carers
- According to the Action Plan, the Government is working with the Carers Trust on a ‘young carers identification project.’
- By Easter 2019, the Government also hopes to have completed a review of best practice in identification of young carers and access to support.
- The Department for Education (DfE) will work on improving multi-agency information sharing to enable better assessments of children’s needs, including the impact of any caring duties.
- The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will fund a “project which focuses on young carers from disadvantaged and seldom heard groups” such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic families.
Improving educational opportunities and outcomes
- The DfE is conducting a review of the educational outcomes of children in need. As part of this review, it is hoped that the Government will learn more about the challenges that young carers face and the interventions that work best to help them.
- In 2017, leaflets and flyers were published to help more young carers gain access to the Carers Allowance. The leaflets can be found on the Learning and Work Institute website. In its Action Plan, the Government said that it would evaluate the impact of these publications.
Improving access to support services
- NHS England will look to “embed and develop the Young Carer Health Champions programme.” This programme was designed to build “confidence in using health services, promote health and wellbeing, and develop the capacity of young carers to participate in the planning and development of young carer friendly services.”
- The Action Plan also noted efforts to improve mental health provision for children. It pointed to the consultation Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health. The Government has since responded to this consultation in July 2018, although this response does not mention young carers specifically.
Transition for young adult carers
- The Action Plan also stated that the “Department of Health and Social Care will fund a project on transitions for young adult carers. The project will look to identify and disseminate effective practices to support and enable young adult carers to make positive transitions between the ages of 16-24, and identify the types of practical and emotional support that can enable a young adult carer to achieve a positive transition.”
Background briefings for Queen's Speech debate on 16 May 2022: "Making Britain the best place to grow up and grow old"
A Westminster Hall debate on the recruitment and retention of foster carers is scheduled for 21 April 2022 at 3:00pm.