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Benefit Rules Pushes Young Carers In England And Wales Out Of Education

Blessing Nkama

Young carers in England and Wales are being forced out of education due to new stringent benefit rules.

This new policy known as the ‘21 hour rule’ prevents young carers who study for more than 21 hours per week from claiming Carer’s Allowance.

Unable to complete full courses of A Levels, Btecs, and T Levels

This means young carers are unable to complete full courses of A Levels, Btecs, and T Levels, without exceeding the limit.

There are currently over 600,000 young careers in the UK, with many juggling caregiving duties with education commitments. This penalty pressures young carers to choose between educational opportunities and their caregiving duties, ultimately prioritising their caregiving duties.

An estimated 37,000 young people in England and Wales provide more than 50 hours of care each week, most often to a family member. Few of them are able to go on to further study after leaving school.”, reports The Guardian.

The Carers Allowance is worth £76.75 per week and can be claimed by carers from the age of sixteen who are currently caring for someone for at least thiry-five hours per week and who earn less than £139 per week. Those studying for more than twenty-one hours are ineligible.

“The impact of this extra impediment can be seen in young carers’ educational outcomes” [The Learning And Work Institute]

Young carers missing out on this allowance will inevitably face more hardships and difficulty as many live in low-income households, often in poverty, and cannot afford to give up the vital financial support that Carer’s Allowance provides. The impact of this extra impediment can be seen in young carers’ educational outcomes: these young people are three times as likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) compared to those without caring responsibilities, and four times more likely to drop out of college or university”, reports The Learning And Work Institute.

Organisations and education institutions are actively advocating for a reform of the policy because of its detrimental impact on young carers and their education. A letter, signed by more than 200 individuals and organisations including charities and housing associations, has urged the Government to reform the ‘21 hour policy’.

Andy McGowan, policy and practice manager at Carers Trust, said: ‘It makes no sense for the 21 hour rule to remain in place, drastically limiting the aspiration of thousands of young adult carers and making them choose between learning and caring.

Blessing Nkama

Featured image courtesy of National Cancer Institute via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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