TEENAGE carers are to be given grants worth £300 a year as part of a new package of support announced by the First Minister.
The grants will be awarded to those aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week and are still at school.
The scheme is aimed at helping to support those who do not qualify for the Carer’s Allowance benefit, which is only available to over 16s who carry out at least 35 hours caring a week.
The grants will be available from autumn 2019.
Those who qualify will also be eligible for free bus travel from 2020/21.
Meanwhile, work to add more entitlements and rewards for 11-18-year-old young carers to the Young Scot National Entitlement Card will start in April next year, with the scheme rolled out from April 2019.
Nicola Sturgeon said the measures would ensure young carers are treated “with the dignity and respect they deserve”.
Speaking on a visit to the Edinburgh Young Carers Project, she said: “This government has always been strongly committed to enhancing carers’ rights and providing them with the right support at the right time.
“The package of support I am announcing today, including the Young Carer Grant, will give valuable extra help to this group of people.
“It comes in addition to a range of other measures, including the support contained in the Carers Act, which enshrines carers’ rights in law for the first time.
“Young carers make an invaluable contribution to society. The additional grant and free bus travel, along with new legislation and our ambitious changes to the social security system, will help ensure they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Meg Wright, director of Carers Trust Scotland, said: “Many young carers have difficulty participating in the normal activities their peers can enjoy.
“The Young Carer Grant will help young carers to pursue more of their aspirations and reduce social isolation through having the means to travel more widely.”
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “The Scottish Government has listened to Greens by taking an opportunity for a fairer approach to provide financial support for thousands of young people providing substantial care that does not meet the 35-hour threshold.
“We’ll continue to monitor the implementation of the policy to make sure it’s meeting young carers’ needs and doesn’t conflict with other benefits in the UK’s complex social security system.”