According to the 2001 census there were approximately 175,000 young carers in the UK, but it is thought that this is likely to be a significant underestimate of those under 18 who have caring responsibilities at home. For most this responsibility will have a significant impact on their work, school or social life.
Successive governments have acknowledged that more needs to be done to support all young carers in all aspects of their caring role and for those young carers over the age of 16 there is some limited financial assistance offered.
Carer’s allowance can be claimed by anyone aged 16 and over who spends at least 35 hours a week caring for someone, but entitlement is dependent on the person being cared receiving certain disability benefits. Carer’s allowance is taxable but as anyone of any age is entitled to a personal tax free allowance no tax would become payable unless carer’s allowance and any other taxable income or benefits exceeded their allowance in a tax year.
A claim for income support can also be made if you are over 16 and unable to work because you are caring for a relative who is disabled. Information on eligibility and how to claim can be found on GOV.UK.
Young carers aged 16 or over who want to continue in education may be eligible for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) but in England (the rules for other parts of the UK differ) this scheme closed to new entrants on 1 January 2011. From September 2011 in England EMA was replaced by a bursary scheme.
For more information about EMA in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales see GOV.UK.