The Liberal Democrats have launched their campaign to Stand Up for Carers.
As the youth and student wing of the party, we're campaigning for a fairer deal for young and student carers.
There are 700,000 young carers in the UK - and that's just the number we know about. Many are 'hidden carers', who don't know that the support they give qualifies as caring. They aren't included in official figures or offered any support.
Carers between the ages of 16 and 18 are twice as likely not to be in education, employment or training than their peers without caring responsibilities. 73% of young carers report having to take time off school to cope with caring responsibilities, and student carers are four times more likely to drop out of their college or university course than other students.
45% of young adult carers report mental health problems, and young carers in rural areas are more likely to feel lonely and isolated. Young carers save the government billions of pounds, as they are effectively unpaid workers, but anyone in 21+ hours of education per week is ineligible for Carer's Allowance.
This isn't good enough.
Young carers need support and specialized education to allow them an equal chance in life. They need opportunities to compensate for missed schooling and to meet the special challenges of their caring roles. And they need to know that they are young carers. We can't let young people and students who need support fall through the cracks.
The Young Liberals are calling for:
- A bus pass for free travel for young carers and young adult carers
- Exam re-takes to be made more readily available for carers in all levels of education
- Learning institutes and employers to treat being a carer as a diversity issue, and provide support accordingly
- Learning institutes to work with charities to provide all young carers and young adult carers with a support worker
- Carers who undertake 21+ hours a week of education to qualify for Carer's Allowance, if they meet the other criteria
- Local authorities to ensure that young carers have educational opportunities on finance, sex and relationships, and mental health
- Awareness about carers to be raised through government campaigns and working with charities