The largest UK carers charity, Carers Trust, today welcomed new rights for adult carers but expressed serious concern about unequal rights for young carers and parent carers.

The Care and Support Bill creates new duties to assess and meet the needs of adult carers, which will mean that for the first time carers will have the same rights as the person they are caring for. This is a significant and hugely welcome step. New duties to provide for information and advice and for preventative services will also help to ensure that carers are supported and can plan for the future.

This Bill should improve the lives of carers. However it is a serious concern that steps have not been taken to ensure that young carers have equal rights with adult carers.

Carers Trust is leading a national campaign, as part of the National Young Carers Coalition, that calls on the Government to make sure that the Care and Support Bill gives adults the support they need, so that children and young people are prevented from taking on caring roles that seriously impact their health and wellbeing and future prospects.

Dr Moira Fraser, Director of Policy and Research at Carers Trust, said: “We recognise and welcome the parts of the Bill that will provide for whole family assessment and for co-operation between adult and children’s services, but it remains unclear how the Bill will specifically improve the situation for young carers. 

“Harmful caring by children – when they have to take on responsibilities that can stop them being able to live as children and that can seriously limit their options in life - can only be prevented when adults are given the right level of support. It is vital that adult services recognise children who may be caring and support is provided to the whole family.

“It is clearly wrong that young carers are left with unequal rights to adult carers and that the law does not ensure they are protected from this type of harmful caring. The Care & Support Bill is a significant opportunity to improve the lives of young carers and ensure that some of our most vulnerable families are supported in the right way and early on.”

The current system fails young carers and their families as the law is too complex and it is not clear who is responsible for identifying and supporting young carers. This acts as a barrier to the early identification of young carers, being able to assess their needs and provide support. 

On the issue of social care funding, Carers Trust welcomes the Government decision to introduce a cap. However, there is a clear and urgent requirement to address the level of unmet need and recognise that the system is already underfunded – something that has a direct impact on unpaid carers who are already saving the government billions of pounds.