Young carers are to get new rights after the government accepted calls for an amendment to the Children and Families Bill.
An estimated 700,000 young carers look after parents or siblings. Picture: Neville Chadwick
The change will give young carers a legal entitlement to assessment and support so that they have the same right to help from local authorities as adult carers.
Children's minister Edward Timpson committed to introducing the new rights during a House of Commons debate on the Children and Families Bill on Tuesday.
It is estimated that the change will benefit 70,000 young carers who look after their parents or siblings.
The National Young Carers' Coalition, which has been campaigning for the change with the Children's Society, welcomed the announcement.
The coalition's chair Dr Moira Fraser said: “We are very pleased that the children’s minister has chosen to listen to the concerns of the sector and revisit the provision for young carers in law.
“We particularly welcome the fact that the minister has stated that he believes that taking a whole-family approach will be the key to ensuring that young carers are protected and that he and the care minister will look at how children’s legislation works with adult legislation to achieve this.
“It is vital that young carers are identified, assessed and supported as early as possible to prevent them from having to take on inappropriate levels of caring that so often have a negative impact on their wellbeing."
Liberal Democrat MP and former care minister Paul Burstow, who also backed the campaign for the reform, said: “Hundreds of thousands of young carers currently do amazing work looking after and supporting their loved ones, but in far too many cases they are struggling to meet too many care needs – at the expense of their school work, their social lives, and even their own health."
He added that it is now vital that amendments be made to the draft Care and Support Bill to ensure adults get sufficient care to relieve pressure on young carers.
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