Young Carers Four Times Over Official Figures

Up to 700,000 children could be acting as carers for members of their families, more than four times the previous official estimate.

A survey of over 4,000 secondary school pupils across the UK for BBC News suggested that 8% of them – around one in 12 – had moderate or high levels of care responsibilities.

Translated across the UK as a whole that would mean 700,000 children under 18 are regularly caring intimately for a close relative, including helping them bathe, dress or go to the toliet. The previous estimate, based on the 2001 census, put the figure at 175,000.

A survey of 4,029 pupils from ten UK secondary schools asked about the level of responsibility a young person has in the home and the types of caring activity undertaken by the young person. Of these 4,029 school pupils, 337 (8%, or 1 in 12) said they had over the preceding month carried out personal care of someone in their home either "a lot of the time" or "some of the time". This includes helping the person they care for to dress, undress, wash, bath or shower. These types of personal or intimate tasks are recognised as the most difficult and embarrassing types of care both for young people to give, and for adults to receive.

Of those who responded to the survey, 29% said they had carried out "emotional care or supervision" of someone in their home either "a lot of the time" or "some of the time" over the preceding month. This includes keeping the person they care for company. While it's impossible to class all of these as young carers, many will be coping with mental illness or substance abuse in their homes.

Children's Minister, Sarah Teather, said: "This research from BBC News shows the reality of what is really going on with young carers. Many young people are happy and proud to care for a family member, but it is shocking to see that they don't get the support they need or the recognition they deserve.

"The Government wants to help which is why we are launching a new strategy for carers today, which makes it clear that everyone working with young people and their families including GPs and teachers must do more to identify and support young carers."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

01 September 2004
Survey claims Britain has a million child carers
The numbers of young people in Britain acting as carers is more than four times higher than has been suggested by recent census reports, according to a survey commissioned by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
05 December 2003
Better information provided for carers in UK
Carers are to get better information about vital services thanks to new information leaflets. Produced by Carers UK and funded by the Department of Health and British Gas, the leaflets provide information to all carers on rights, benefits and breaks in a clear format.
29 August 2008
More Financial Help Needed For British Carers
Around six million people in Britain who are looking after sick and elderly relatives are not receiving adequate financial support, a new report has revealed. The Work and Pensions Select Committee today published the report entitled 'Valuing and Supporting Carers'.
02 December 2005
Carers losing out on £746m in benefits
People who give up work to become carers are losing out on £746 million in benefits, according to a report. Charity group Carers UK said that older carers were particularly hard hit.
23 June 2006
Foster carers jailed for child abuse
A gay couple who worked as foster carers have been jailed for sexually abusing young boys in their care. Craig Faunch, 32, was jailed for six years, while his partner Ian Wathey was sentenced to five years, at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. The couple, from Pontefract in West Yorkshire, were found guilty of a series of sex offences last month.
01 August 2013
Call For Review Of Payments Made To Carers
Over 300 carers in Merseyside have been underpaid "for years", according to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). Following a compliant by a woman who cares for her nephew, the LGO found that Liverpool City Council had failed to pay the national minimum wage to carers of young children.
14 October 2010
£4 Million Boost For Carers
A raft of new measures that will help support carers were unveiled by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow today. More than £4 million will be reinvested in a range of projects from training schemes for health and social care workers to access better information.
29 July 2015
Ban For Mother Caught Drunk Driving With Her Children
A 32-year-old woman has been banned from driving for two years after she was caught more than three times the legal limit with her two young children in the car. Sarah Pickering, of Redfearn Mews, Harrogate was stopped on Leadhall Lane in Harrogate on 03 July.
16 April 2009
'Homeless' Youngsters Stay With Parents
Changed times and economic hardship has led to a sea change in the way young men and women are living in the UK. A new report has shown that almost a third of men and a fifth of women aged between 20 and 34 still live at home with their parents. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), during the second quarter of 2008, 1.
06 June 2003
'Success' claimed over processing times for young offenders
The government is claiming success today after Home Office figures found that the time it takes to deal with persistent young offenders has been halved since Labour came to power.
23 May 2006
'Train' paedophile gang jailed
A gang of four paedophiles who posted graffiti messages on train toilet doors seeking young girls for sex have been jailed. Trevor Haddock, 55, from Worcester, Ian Jones, 43, from Worthing, John Farmer, 68, from Pevensey and Derek Moody, 43, from Newcastle, pleaded guilty to a range of sexual offences.
10 November 2006
EuroMillions £100m jackpot promises sales bonanza
The £100m EuroMillions jackpot is expected to see ticket sales soar as punters are tempted to stake their claim in the draw. Despite the 76 million to one chance of winning, the £1.50 UK ticket price will prove irresistible to many.
14 June 2010
Bullying Highlighted In Child Suicides
Some 44% of suicides committed by young people in the UK are due to bullying according to charity Beatbullying. From 2000-2008, the Office of National Stastics (ONS) recorded 176 suicides of 10-14 year-olds. Beatbullying undertook a comprehensive search of the Nexis database to examine the number of these suicides reported in the national media.
04 June 2010
BBC Classroom Kicks Off World Cup
The BBC's digital classroom, 21st Century Classroom (21CC), is to give young people from across the country the chance to work on broadcasting the World Cup. The unit is teaming up with BBC Sport and the English Football Association for the 2010 tournament, to allow the youngsters to learn creative and media skills from industry professionals.
03 September 2008
Balls 'Frustrated' By EMA Delay Situation
Education Secretary Ed Balls has expressed 'frustration' at administrative delays currently slowing down the application process for Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) grants.