It is estimated that there are 6.5 million carers in the UK, 3 million of whom are also employed in the workplace. Research suggests that estimates of the number of adults and children with caring responsibilities is too low. In addition many carers live in poverty with little if any support.

Carers and legislation

Significant changes to carers’ assessments, and to the rights of young carers and parent carers of disabled children came into force on 1 April 2015 as a result of provisions in the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014.

The Care Act 2014 introduces a legal duty for local authorities to meet carers’ needs, according to nationally set criteria. Any carer who may have needs for support, whether currently or in the future, is entitled to a carer’s assessment by their local authority. The assessment must look at any assistance that the carer requires to continue to provide care, and a carer remains entitled to an assessment even if the care recipient refuses an assessment for themselves. It must also look at the carer’s needs independent of the needs of the care recipient, including care breaks, and, a carer’s outside interests.

Carers rights in the workplace

Working parents of children with disabilities (under the age of 18) have the right to request flexible working arrangements. You also have a statutory right to ask your employer for flexible working if you care for an adult who is a relative or lives at the same address as you. You are entitled to time off for dependants to deal with unforeseen circumstances. Carers of disabled and elderly people are also protected from discrimination at work. The Equality Act 2010 brought in provisions to prevent “discrimination by association” on the basis of age or disability. This prevents carers being treated unfavourably at work, or not being offered a job, because of their caring role, as well as protection from harassment. The Act also prevents victimisation of carers, and provides protection when buying goods and using services.

Young carers

A young carer is a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person. The number of child carers has continued to rise in the UK and these carers typically spend between 20 to 50 hours a week on caring duties. In 2017 it was estimated that there are over 700,000 child carers in the UK. The Children and Families Act 2014  gives young carers the same right to an assessment as adult carers, including the appropriateness of the child providing care in light of their own needs.

Produced by Little Fish Films, Gus Filgate’s film Pie tells the story of a young carer’s determination to treat his granny like she used to treat him.

Further reading

Carers’ stories

Carer’s allowance

Carers UK