The start of a better future for young carers
You might not have noticed it as it came and went, but yesterday, Monday the 18 November 2013, was a historic day for young carers in England.
As you might have seen in a previous blog, the work we have been doing to ensure young carers have their rights recognised in law has finally paid off. Following the statement from the Secretary of State, the Government put forward an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will mean young carers , on the appearance of need, will have a right to assessment and to having their needs met. This is an enormous step forward. The amendment was debated last week, and technically, it passed on Monday. The law, we expect, will be passed in full in the New Year, and will come into force in 2015. For the first time, in law, young carers will be recognised.
It’s been tricky work. Changing the law is a complicated business. There is so much to think about and so many people who need to be convinced that it’s the right thing to do – because inevitably changes cost money. And you always have to be wary of the perils of “unintended consequences” – you may do something with the best of intentions, but then find that in practice, something else happens altogether.
I don’t think we can underestimate how important this step forward is.
Now we need make sure that this isn’t where it ends – the law needs to work to reduce inappropriate caring too – so that young people aren’t put in a position where caring has a negative impact on their health, wellbeing or development. This means meeting adults’ needs better – and this needs to be addressed in the Care Bill and its regulations. So hopefully, chiming nicely with the zeitgeist of integration, we will have two laws that actually work together to ensure young people and their families are supported.
There’s more work to be done. The regulations are incredibly important in laying out exactly how all of this will work, and these are only in the initial stages of development. But let’s take a short moment to be proud of all our achievements and to thank everyone – to mention just some – the young carers and their families, the young carers’ services, the members of the National Young Carers Coalition and staff who have done so much incredible work on this, and the officials at the Department for Education and the Department of Health. And then there are the legal advisers who gave their time to help us, the journalists, the academics , the local government officials and policy makers, our fantastically supportive friends in both Houses of Parliament – and of course the two Ministers concerned – Ed Timpson and Norman Lamb.
Everyone’s input and co-operation has been needed to make this work, sometimes putting aside differences or other priorities and making sure we never forgot what we were trying to achieve. It has been a privilege for me to be Chair of the National Young Carers Coalition as this has come to fruition. At a time when the lobbying role of charities is coming under intense scrutiny, it’s an example of the very best of the voluntary sector working in partnership with decision makers to achieve a fantastic outcome for the people we are here to support.
Well done everyone, and thank you all. Let’s hope this is the start of a better future for young carers.