Carers Trust survey reveals devastating double whammy in Scotland of cost-of-living crisis and increasing intensity of caring responsibilities on children and young adults
“I’d love to have kid problems. Instead, I’m saving up to try and pay our rent and to see if I can squeeze in some food at the end of it.”
· 66% of young carers and young adult carers in Scotland told Carers Trust’s survey the cost-of-living crisis is always or usually hitting them and their family adversely
· 36% say they always or usually face additional costs because they are an unpaid carer
· 54% say the time they spend caring has increased in the past year
· 52% always or usually feel stressed because they are an unpaid carer
A new Carers Trust survey released today (9th March) shows the devastating double whammy of the cost-of-living crisis and the increasing intensity of caring responsibilities shouldered by children and young people providing unpaid care to family members.
The report, released a week ahead of Young Carers Action Day (15 March), an annual event led and organised by national charity Carers Trust, aims to raise awareness of the devastating impact on young people of fulfilling their caring role without sufficient support.
The UK-wide survey of 1,109 young carers (aged under 18) and young adult carers (aged 18-25), including 181 living in Scotland, showed alarming findings, with many young people contributing to or managing the family finances. The survey found that 36% of respondents in Scotland said they always or usually face additional costs because they are a young carer or young adult carer and 66% said the cost-of-living crisis is always or usually affecting them and their family.
One young adult told the survey: “I’d love to have kid problems. Instead, I’m saving up to try and pay our rent and to see if I can squeeze in some food at the end of it.”
The survey also found a significant intensification of their caring role. More than half (59%) of those surveyed in Scotland report caring for between 20 and 49 hours, while also balancing their studies, work and lives outside of caring. However, as many stated in the survey, this does not reflect the extra time they spend worrying about the needs of the person they care for and the true figure may be much higher.
In total, 54% of young carer and young adult carer respondents in Scotland said the time they spend caring has increased in the last year and 36% said they now care for more people than they used to.
One young adult told the survey: “Caring never stops. Especially when it’s time to sleep, your brain constantly worries about how tomorrow will be, hospital appointments, money etc. It’s in overdrive.”
Time spent caring hits education and wellbeing
A higher proportion of those caring for more hours per week reported problems with money, not having time to socialise, feeling stressed and worried and not getting enough rest, sleep or time for themselves.
In terms of education, 49% of respondents in Scotland said that they never or do not often get help in school, college or university to balance caring and education work, with a third of overall respondents saying they usually or always struggle with that balance. They also report a lack of support from schools, with 32% of Scotland respondents saying there is ‘not often’ or ‘never’ someone at their school, college or university who understands about them being a carer.
For those who work, 50% ‘always’ or ‘usually’ struggle to balance caring with paid work in Scotland.
One young adult said: “There is a lot of pressure on me, to the detriment of my own health, wellbeing, success, happiness and future.”
The findings suggest these pressures are having a devastating effect on mental health. Many struggle with emotional wellbeing and feel stressed, overwhelmed or drained. The survey revealed that 52% of young carer and young adult carer respondents in Scotland ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feel stressed.
Illustrating the overwhelming nature of being a young carer, one said: “You don’t get to have bad days. If you have a bad day, the whole house can fall into disarray. It’s exhausting and traumatic.”
Young and young adult carers say the key things they need are support around: mental health, money and finances, education and a break from caring.
Among its recommendations, Carers Trust is calling for:
· All schools, colleges and universities to appoint a Young Carers Champion with strategic responsibility and oversight for identifying and implementing appropriate support.
· Scottish Government to introduce a fully resourced right to short breaks for all unpaid carers with dedicated funding.
· Improved access to financial support for young carers and young adult carers, including extending Carer’s Support Payment (currently Carer’s Allowance) eligibility to unpaid carers in full-time education.
· Scottish Government to increase the level of funding for young carer and young adult carer support and ring-fence it.
Louise Morgan, Director of Carers Trust Scotland comments:
“These shocking survey results show young people caring for their loved ones are being hit by a perfect storm of increasing intensity in their caring responsibilities and the spiralling cost of living. It cannot be right that children and young adult carers are having to take on the burden of dealing with stretched household finances and caring for ever longer hours, to the detriment of their education and wellbeing.
“These young people and the local organisations that support them need radical action from local and nation governments. Young people also tell us they urgently need support with mental health and access to breaks. It’s high time we gave them the help they so sorely need.”
An embargoed copy of “Being a young carer is not choice. It’s just what we do: Scotland Summary”, Carers Trust’s Scotland summary report on the survey findings, is available on request.
An embargoed copy of “Being a young carer is not a choice; it’s just what we do.”, Carers Trust’s full report on the survey findings, is available on request.
For further information, and to arrange interviews with Carers Trust spokespeople and unpaid carer case studies, please contact:
Paul Traynor, email@example.com and 07824 542964
Mark Chandler, firstname.lastname@example.org and 07712 427808
Matt Whitticase, email@example.com and 07824 539481
About Carers Trust
Carers Trust is the UK charity working to transform the lives of unpaid carers across the UK. It partners with its network of local carer organisations to provide funding and support, deliver innovative and evidence-based programmes and raise awareness and influence policy. Carers Trust’s vision is that unpaid carers are heard and valued, with access to support, advice and resources to enable them to live fulfilled lives.
Carers Trust hosts the Young Carers Alliance, a network of over 150 organisations and 300 individuals committed to improving identification and support for young carers and young adult carers. Carers Trust also hosts the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance, an informal network of young carers services across Scotland. It has 51 members who provide support to young carers.