Fears councils will struggle to meet young carer duties

Joe Lepper
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Councils will not be able to meet legal commitments to support young carers that come into force today, campaigners have warned.

Councils must take into account the impact of caring for an adult on young carers in terms of their mental and physical wellbeing. Picture: Neville Chadwick
Councils must take into account the impact of caring for an adult on young carers in terms of their mental and physical wellbeing. Picture: Neville Chadwick

Provisions of the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014 relating to young carers come into effect today, giving carers of all ages the same rights as those they care for.

This makes it mandatory for councils to assess the needs of the whole family when tailoring support for someone with a long-term illness or substance misuse issue.

In addition councils will have a legal duty to take into account the impact of caring for an adult on young carers in terms of their mental and physical wellbeing.

But the Carers Trust has warned that councils will struggle to meet the new duty in the face of continuing cuts across both adult and children’s social care budgets.

Moira Fraser, director of policy and research at the Carers Trust, said she fears that the extent of the cuts will result in the new legal duties being “watered down” by many councils.

She said: “Spending on social care has fallen by more than £1bn since 2010.

"By introducing new requirements on councils to protect the wellbeing of carers, the government is asking local councils to do more with less and less.”

Fraser has urged all political parties to commit to boosting investment in social care in the next parliament in order to “provide the assistance to carers the new acts demand".

The concerns come a month after the Department for Education published its response to its consultation on the regulatory change on support for young carers.

The DfE revealed it had ruled out imposing time limits on councils for carrying out needs assessments of young carers, despite calls from campaigners for the measure.

The DfE also ruled out a call from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services to involve young carers’ wider family and friendship circle when assessing their level of need and support.

According to the 2011 Census there are officially 166,000 young carers in England but The Children’s Society estimates the true figure could be as high as 700,000.

The Children’s Society also says that one in 12 young carers is caring for more than 15 hours each week, and one in 20 misses school because of their caring responsibilities.

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