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Young Carers

Volume 570: debated on Monday 11 November 2013

On 8 October, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education issued a written ministerial statement announcing an amendment to the Children and Families Bill. For the first time, all young carers will have the right to an assessment of their needs for support as part of the consideration of the needs of the whole family. That amendment will help to achieve our aim of protecting young people from excessive or inappropriate caring roles.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Many of the young carers in my constituency and their families will be delighted with that news, but how will he ensure that this landmark law is backed up with the support that is necessary for it to be implemented successfully?

It is important to recognise that we are not coming at this from a standing start. Since April 2011, we have been funding work done by the Carers Trust and the Children’s Society to establish and share the best practice in supporting young carers that we know is already out there. To date, they have worked with more than 100 local authorities, and we hope that we can help to build that progress with them.

We have an excellent young carers project in Salford, but it can do its excellent work only if schools and teachers help to identify carers in the first place, so that they can get that help and support. Does the Minister agree that it is essential for schools, colleges and universities to have in place policies that can identify pupils and students who are young carers, and make sure that they are referred to that excellent source of advice and help?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. She has been a strong advocate for young carers, not just in her constituency, but more widely. The Children’s Society has been awarded £1.5 million by the Big Lottery Fund to help ensure that teachers are better at identifying young carers in school, and that young carers are identified and get the support that they require. That is welcome news.