Welfare reform set to cut £50 million in support for young carers

13 December 2011

Young carers and their families face losing £50 million a year(1) under proposed welfare reforms, new analysis by The Children’s Society reveals.

On the eve of the report stage of the Welfare Reform Bill (starts Monday 12 December), the leading children’s charity has found that 25,000 families with young carers looking after disabled parents could lose up to nearly £70 per week through the abolition of disability premiums, including the “Severe Disability Premium” following the introduction of the Universal Credit.

The Severe Disability Premium gives additional support to disabled adults who have no one to care for them, or are being looked after by a young carer. This money helps to pay for additional costs of living with a disability, such as housework, preparing meals and travel.

The Department for Works and Pensions has estimated around 42,000 young carers could be affected by these proposed changes (2).

This could increase the already significant pressure on young carers to carry out these vital roles, The Children’s Society argues.

Young carers already lack support within the current benefits system as they are not typically entitled to Carer’s Allowance, despite 13,000 of them providing more than 50 hours of unpaid care each week.   

The introduction of Universal Credit spells the end of this additional support, costing families with a young carer up to £2,876 a year – which could be equivalent to 20 per cent of household income(3). With the abolition of the Enhanced Disability premium, also proposed, some families with a young carer could lose more than £3,500 a year. 

Enver Solomon, Policy Director at The Children’s Society, said: “Withdrawing millions of pounds of support will feel like a slap in the face to thousands of families with young carers, making life so much harder than it already is for them. Young carers frequently tell us that their caring responsibilities affect their education, well-being and futures; their lives are tough enough without compounding the problem.”

A BBC survey suggested that there are as many as 700,000 young carers in the UK – four times the official estimate(4). Research by The Children’s Society and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers in 2010 showed that 68 per cent of young carers are bullied at school and 70 per cent felt that being a young carer made their life more difficult(5).

Ends

For more information, please call David Dinnage in The Children’s Society Media Team on 020 7841 4422, or email david.dinnage@childrenssociety.org.uk

Notes to editors

The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children can be children, childhood is respected and every child is valued for who they are. Our approach is driven by our Christian values and by the voices of children and young people, who are at the heart of all we do. In 2009 The Children’s Society published The Good Childhood Inquiry, the UK's first independent national inquiry into childhood. Its aims were to renew society's understanding of modern childhood and to inform, improve and inspire all our relationships with children. The Children's Society is continuing to improve this understanding of issues affecting children through all of its ongoing work.

 (1)The Department for Works and Pension estimates around 25,000 lone parents receive severe disability premium. The average weekly loss for each of the 25,000 families is £41 per week, which gives an overall annual loss of £53 million.

 (2) Based on an average of 1.7 children (according to the Office for National Statistics) in each of the 25,000 families affected.

 (3) after housing costs

 (4) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11757907

 (5) http://www.carers.org/press-release/bullied-stressed-and-anxious-young-carers-struggle-cope-school