Welsh Conservatives have today announced plans for a new grant to help address the financial pressures that force many young adult carers to drop out of education and training.
At present, young adult carers fall foul of the so-called 21-hour rule, which means that they cannot study on a course exceeding 21 hours per week and still claim carers’ allowance of £62.70 per week.
It has prompted young adult carers from Carmarthenshire to campaign for a change in the rules which state that to be eligible for carers’ allowance an individual must be over 16 and care for someone for at least 35 hours a week.
But Welsh Conservatives argue that the 35 hour threshold can be achieved through overnight care, and on weekends – particularly where the carer is supporting a family member in the same household. Young carers also say that, when caring for someone with poor mental health, they can, on occasions, offer appropriate support by phone or text without having to leave their college or work placement.
Welsh Conservatives are launching the new policy in Llanelli, in association with Carmarthen Carers Trust (Carmarthenshire Crossroads Care).
Shadow Social Services Secretary – Suzy Davies – backs the Young Adult Carers’ campaign to change the rules on carers’ allowance. In the meantime, she is using devolved powers to launch a new grant for young adult carers to help support their ambition to stay in education or apprenticeships.
Commenting on the plans, she said:
“Young adult carers shouldn’t have to drop out of part or full time education, or apprenticeship opportunities, just because they have caring responsibilities.
“Our young adult carers are true heroes, undervalued even though they keep families together and take the strain of looking after vulnerable family members.
“If we can help them keep up with the continuing education or apprenticeships they may need to plan for their own futures, then we absolutely should.
“The Young Adult Carers Futures Grant means that they wouldn’t have to worry about losing their carers allowance just because they wanted to continue in education. it will help give young adult carers access to vital opportunities that they often miss out on through no fault of their own.”
The Young Adult Carers Grant would give young adult carers, who lose their care allowance, £60 a week to enable them to enter full time education and training.
This combined with the young person’s Green Card – for free or subsidised travel – targets those who are determined to progress their career development but face barriers which are not of their own making, and which cannot be overcome in any other way.