The Commission’s overall view is that the Young Carer Grant is a welcome and progressive policy intervention and that the policy aims are consistent with the social security principles and the Scottish Government’s human rights obligations. The Grant will mean that Scotland is the only UK social security jurisdiction in which the needs of an often overlooked group have been identified and an attempt made to address them. It is important too that the Scottish Government is not thinking about the Grant as a singular intervention but rather as part of a wider package of support to help young carers realise their social, economic and cultural rights. It is our hope that this package of support will continue to evolve and grow over time, as the impact is measured.
But as our analysis and recommendations make clear, further work is required to ensure that the Scottish Government’s policy aims will be fully realised. This applies in particular to addressing engagement and eligibility gaps, revisiting the proposed definition of care and offering a more flexible set of rules relating to the qualifying period. In future, it is desirable that more detailed analysis is presented which demonstrates how payment levels were arrived at and the extent to which it is likely to support delivery of the policy aspiration and the principle that social security should contribute to the reduction of poverty.
The Commission looks forward to the Scottish Government’s response and welcomes views on how its scrutiny and reporting can be continuously improved.
Recommendation 1: The Commission invites the Scottish Government to provide information on any specific engagement or consultation undertaken with equalities groups, those from seldom-heard groups and cared-for people.
Recommendation 2: In the event that there was no specific engagement or consultation undertaken by Scottish Government with equalities groups, those from seldom heard groups and cared-for people on this occasion, the Commission recommends that it seeks to improve its approach to engaging with a broader range of people directly affected by a proposed policy as a matter of priority.
Recommendation 3: The Commission recommends that the Scottish Government give consideration to the case for extending eligibility, now or in the future, to young adults over the age of 18 not eligible for Carer’s Allowance and invites Scottish Government to provide information on projected costs.
Recommendation 4: The Commission invites the Scottish Government to reflect on how it might address the identified eligibility gap in relation to young people delivering care to people not in receipt of a qualifying benefit, and to comment on whether the devolution of disability benefits may provide a means to help achieve this.
Recommendation 5: The Scottish Government is invited to provide more clarity on the evidence base, and process undertaken, to identify £300 as an appropriate, adequate level of payment; and to comment on the extent to which it believes the grant will deliver on its policy aims.
Recommendation 6: The Scottish Government is invited to comment on what it sees as the appropriate balance between different forms of support for young carers and how it will ensure that the value of YCG is not eroded by reductions or deficits elsewhere.
Recommendation 7: The Scottish Government is invited to provide more clarity on the extent to which it expects the YCG will do more than contribute towards the meeting of basic subsistence needs and whether this reflects the Scottish Government’s policy aims.
Recommendation 8: The Commission invites the Scottish Government to consider whether the rules relating to the qualifying period can be adapted to mitigate the risks that it could negatively impact people who care for those with fluctuating conditions and that it is insufficiently flexible to reflect the needs and circumstances of young people.
Recommendation 9: The Commission recommends that the Scottish Government abolishes the proposed definition of care in favour of a more flexible approach. The Commission’s view is that the Scottish Government’s welcome aim of providing greater clarity could be better achieved through improved guidance and targeted outreach activity.
Recommendation 10: The Scottish Government is invited to clarify what will constitute a valid claim, including evidence requirements, for the YCG; taking account of the Commission’s view that the approach should be as flexible and accessible as possible.
Recommendation 11: The Scottish Government should check with DWP that the term “Invalid Care Allowance” is obsolete and, if so, consider removing reference to it from the draft regulations.
Recommendation 12: The Scottish Government is invited to consider whether Regulation 7(1) could be phrased more clearly to avoid risk of confusion about what counts as being “in receipt” of carer’s assistance.
Recommendation 13: The Scottish Government is invited to consider whether the exception made in regulation 7(4)(b) could be broadened to encompass other circumstances than the death of the original YCG recipient, where caring responsibilities reasonably shift between young people.
Recommendation 14: The Scottish Government is invited to consider whether regulation 11 as drafted makes adequate provision for other circumstances in which it would be reasonable to expect that Scottish Ministers would award a Grant without application.
Recommendation 15: The Commission invites the Scottish Government to consider whether the regulations could be strengthened to underline that the form YCG is given in is wholly the choice of young carers, and invites Scottish Government to comment on how it will ensure young carers are fully informed about this and to outline the options that can be offered, as shaped by the consultation.
Recommendation 16: The Scottish Government is invited to clarify whether Schedule 2 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 leaves scope for different definitions of “regular and substantial care” to appear in different sets of regulations. If so, the Scottish Government is invited to offer a view on whether this risks inconsistency, complexity and confusion.
Recommendation 17: Building on the analysis and recommendations offered throughout this report, the Commission recommends that the Scottish Government monitors, evaluates or researches:
a) The real world use and impact of the Grant and the extent of the positive difference YCG has made to young carers’ lives
b) The extent to which this suggests that the policy aims have been fulfilled. If the policy aims have not been fulfilled, what factors have prevented this?
c) The extent to which the £300 grant is meeting the Scottish Government’s ambitious policy aims and whether the evidence suggests this sum should be revisited.
d) The extent to which the Grant contributed to a reduction in poverty for the people who receive it.
e) If the Scottish Government does not rethink the qualifying period, whether there is evidence of an impact on take-up, including among specific groups of young carers.
f) If the Scottish Government does not follow the Commission’s recommendation on reverting to a broader definition of care, it should seek to evaluate the impact of the new definition.
g) Gather evidence of varying take-up or wider impact on young carers with protected characteristics, intersectional characteristics or those belonging to seldom heard groups.
h) Gather evidence of the impact of the YCG on young women in particular
i) Monitor the impact, should people subject to immigration control be granted exemption.
j) To monitor the impact of the operational approach to determining what should constitute a valid claim e.g. is this encouraging or restricting applications.
k) Consider whether the eligibility rules for devolved disability benefits, once decided, have implications for the eligibility and impact of YCG.
l) Consider the interface of YCG when developing Carers Assistance to prevent or remedy undesirable inconsistencies or complexity.