MPs to hold first ever inquiry into how caring responsibilities affect life chances of young people
The first ever parliamentary inquiry into the impact of caring responsibilities on the life chances of young carers is launching today (Wednesday 7 June), aiming to transform the prospects of more than one million children and young people.
Launching during Carers Week (5 to 11 June), the inquiry will examine how both young carers (aged under 18) and young adult carers (aged 18 to 25) are affected by their role across a wide range of aspects of their lives.
There are an estimated one million young carers alone in the UK and many more young adult carers, all looking after family members or friends who need support because of an illness, disability or addiction.
Recent research from University College London showed young and young adult carers were 38% less likely to get a degree than others their age. Carers aged 23 or over were also less likely to get a job. Those caring for 35 hours or more a week 46% less likely to enter employment than non-carers.
The pressure on them is only increasing, research shows. According to a Carers Trust survey, 56% of young and young adult carers are spending more time caring than the year before, while 47% are looking after more people than they used to.
The new inquiry is being run by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers. It will be led by APPG vice-chair Duncan Baker MP, with support from the charity Carers Trust. To ensure the voices of young carers are heard throughout the process, a panel of 12 young and young adult carers from across England will act as youth advisors to the inquiry.
Key issues examined by the inquiry will include access to education, the support available to young carers and their families, and opportunities for breaks from caring. It will also focus on how caring affects young people into adulthood such as the impact on further education and employment prospects.
The inquiry will hear from young carers themselves alongside service providers, parents and other organisations who have a role in improving support for young carers like local authorities, schools and academics.
The inquiry kicks off today with an online call for evidence. Oral hearings will follow with a final report containing recommendations for improving government policy expected in November.
APPG vice-chair Duncan Baker MP, who is leading the inquiry, said: ”I’m delighted to be leading the first parliamentary inquiry into the life opportunities for young carers. As someone who has spent many years working closely with my local young carers organisation, Holt Youth Project, I have always been struck by just how much some young carers are taking on. It is our job to ensure that they and their families get the support they need and this inquiry will help us to better do that.”
Paul Blomfield MP, chair of the APPG for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers, said: ”Over the past year, the APPG for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers has heard from young carers across the country. Each time, they have powerfully told us how being a young carer impacts their lives and how they need better support – whether that be in education, with their mental health, or the opportunity to just be children. The fact that there are still children as young as five providing more than 50 hours of care a week is something which simply has to change. This inquiry will amplify the voices of young carers and their families and must lead to more support for them.”
Andy McGowan, Policy and Practice Manager for Young and Young Adult Carers at Carers Trust, said: ”This inquiry will for the first time bring together the voices and experiences of young carers, and also those who can help support them – whether they be parents, schools, young carer services or researchers. The findings of this inquiry will help inform what more collectively needs to be done to ensure that young carers and young adult carers experience the same life chances as their peers. And with the growing evidence base highlighting the increasing impact on young carers’ education, health and wellbeing and future opportunities, this is vital and must lead to action to improve identification support for the hundreds of thousands of young carers across the country.”
For further information, please contact:
Mark Chandler, Media and PR Officer at Carers Trust, on email@example.com and 07712 427808
NOTES TO EDITORS
University College London research, supported by Carers Trust, looked at 10 years of data for 27,000 people in the UK aged 16 to 29. It found that more hours spent caring made it less likely someone would get a degree. As an example, those who cared for 35 hours or more per week were 86% less likely to achieve the qualification. Carers aged 23 or over were less likely than non-carers to enter employment, and this also depended largely on how many hours a week they spent caring. People caring for 35 hours or more a week were 46% less likely to enter employment than non-carers.
A UK-wide survey by Carers Trust of 1,109 young carers (aged under 18) and young adult carers (aged 18-25), published in March, showed a significant intensification of their caring role. In total, 56% said the time they spend caring has increased in the last year and 47% said they now care for more people than they used to. This is in line with latest census data which showed the proportion of unpaid carers providing 20 hours’ or more care a week has markedly increased.