Skip to main content

A Costly Youth: The Impact of Caring on Young People in Scotland

The impact of caring responsibilities and the value of those responsibilities have received increased attention in the media and across the political and public policy landscape in recent times. In 2014, the Scottish Government launched a public consultation on specific proposals for carers’ legislation.

There is no definitive agreed number of carers or young carers in Scotland. Several sources estimate that there are between 500,000 and 650,000 people with caring responsibilities, and between 80,000 and 120,000 young carers and young adult carers.

There is a lack of data pertaining to the financial conditions faced by those with caring responsibilities in Scotland, although it is generally agreed that they have the potential to face more challenging financial circumstances.

While a wide range of research has emerged in the last few years focusing on the financial hardship faced by those with caring responsibilities, its scope is mostly UK-wide with limited focus on young carers or young adult carers. This research seeks to supplement the existing evidence base by examining the financial conditions faced by young carers and young adult carers in Scotland, and the impact of their caring responsibilities on their educational, social and emotional development.

The following key findings emerged from the research:
o 74.2% of the participants said that they experience stress or worry due to their financial situation;
o Of those participants who indicated that they experience stress or worry 40.8% said affording basic needs was their greatest source of concern, and 32.3% said affording further or higher education caused the most concern; and,
o Of those participants currently in further and higher education 80.3% said they have considered dropping out of their course, 75.0% said they are unsure if they should stay in college or university, and 80.4% said it affected their ability to study enough.

The following key conclusions emerged from the research:
1. Young carers and young adult carers experience significant emotional and financial strain due to their caring responsibilities.
2. Young carers and young adult carers lack sufficient support and financial assistance during the transition from childhood to adulthood.
3. Young carers’ groups and opportunities to socialise with peers are important for the emotional wellbeing of young carers and young adult carers.
4. Many young carers and young adult carers feel their current and future opportunities are limited due to their caring responsibilities.
5. There are gaps in literature and research in regards to young adult carers in Scotland.