Following the Scottish Government’s commitment to young carers at the Scottish Parliament COVID-19 Committee today, the Commissioner urges that they include young carers in any plans for the extra supports they put in place.
Although the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill provides an increase in carers’ allowance, this will not be provided to young carers.
However, the Scottish Government has committed to working on a universal service instead, where support will be available to carers regardless of their age.
Commissioner Bruce Adamson said:
“The Coronavirus pandemic continues to have a disproportionate impact on the rights of young people with caring responsibilities in Scotland. I was pleased the Scottish Government reiterated its commitment to young carers in response to a call from Alison Johnstone MSP.
“Many young carers will currently be supporting a disabled adult who is shielding, who themselves have been significantly impacted by lockdown measures. Young carers are also taking on broader responsibilities for siblings and other family members.”
“Young carers have told me about the extra pressures they face now with increases in bills and added complications of shopping and caring for their loved one during this pandemic. This is on top of the added mental strain of being isolated from friends and other supports that they may usually rely on whilst trying to keep up with their own education.
“It is essential that the Government works closely with young carers to hear from them what supports they need and how best to deliver them, including how direct financial support can be provided.”
Young carers are often forgotten
In 2016, our office commissioned research into the views and experiences of young carers in Scotland. Their experiences are summed up by the title of the report: “Coping is difficult but I feel proud”.
Young carers reported that they often felt forgotten in decision making processes and that they were reluctant to engage with social work due to a fear of child protection interventions and due to the stigma and shame of being a young carer.
This resulted in a barrier to them fully realising their rights under the UNCRC.
Overall, negative impacts were associated with higher levels of caring responsibility.