New research by Carers Trust, the UK's largest carers charity, shows the shocking impact of caring unpaid for a family member or friend on young adults in their education and when looking for work.
The first large-scale survey of carers aged 14-25 shines a light on the lives of some of the 375,000 young adults in the UK, young people who pick up the pieces when their families with care needs are left without adequate support.
Responses from 295 young carers reveal that only one in five young adult carers had received a carers' assessment, with only 22% of those surveyed receiving a formal assessment of their needs by the local authority. An assessment is a vital step in ensuring that carers and their families are able to get the support they need.
If the respondents are representative of the population of young adult carers in the UK, then over 200,000 young people and their families are not receiving the services and support that they need. Drawing on analysis of the research findings and consultation with thousands of young adult carers, Carers Trust is launching a new campaign, because it is young adult carers' Time to be Heard. It calls on the Government and public bodies to secure a positive future for the UK's young adult carers. Launched in the House of Commons today, the Time to be Heard campaign aims to give young adult carers a voice and address the barriers they face in education and employment.
Dr Moira Fraser, interim Chief Executive of Carers Trust says: "This research shows young adult carers are experiencing scandalous difficulties in their education and employment prospects, in their health and in their socialisation. They are not being identified and supported, and that means they face many barriers that will have a real and lasting impact on their future.
"However - there is a clear path forward. Proper funding of the implementation of the Care Act 2014 is vital, so that young adult carers are protected from excessive caring responsibilities and can put their energy into education, training and employment. And this investment needs to be reflected in Government policy so that young adult carers are recognised as a vulnerable group who are prioritised for support to fulfil their potential".
The research was undertaken as part of Carers Trust's 'About Time' Programme, funded by The Co-operative Group, who made Carers Trust their charity of the year for 2013. It found that young adult carers:
- miss or cut short an average of 48 school days a year because of their caring role
- were four times more likely to drop out of college or university
- were 2.5 times more likely than the general population to be out of education, employment or training (NEET)
- miss work an average of 17 days per year, with a further 79 days affected because of their caring responsibilities
- have higher rates of poor mental and physical health
- experience high rates of bullying- one quarter reported bullying and abuse in school because they were a carer.
Carers Trust are making the following recommendations as part of the Time to be Heard campaign:
- The government should provide sufficient funding and monitoring of the implementation of the Care Act 2014 and Children and Families Act 2014. Young adult carers and their families should receive appropriate assessments and the care needs of the whole family should be met. Young adult carers should not be unduly relied on to provide care.
- The government should include young adult carers in additional financial support programmes, such as Pupil Premium, the 16-19 Bursary Fund and the criteria for university access agreements so that young adult carers are identified and given the support to do well in their education.
- The NHS and local authorities should support a national network of young adult carer services to improve young adult carers' wellbeing, ensure their rights to assessment and support are respected and to make sure their views are represented within local decision-making.
- Careers guidance, training and employability programmes should recognise young adult carers as a vulnerable group and provide sufficient information for them to plan for training and/or employment.