This month sees Carer’s Week, an annual campaign, highlighting the challenges unpaid carers face and recognising the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
In the UK, there are 376,000 young people aged 16–25 with unpaid caring responsibilities. Many young carers are hidden from view, slipping under the radar of vital support services, including financial aid and education. A government report has found that 67% of current or past young carers had not received any support.
Taking on another person’s finances as well as your own can be particularly daunting, especially for young carers. Together with our supporters at the Quilter Foundation, part of the Kickstart Money alliance bringing money skills to primary schools, our Education Officer Andy Smart has named his top five tips for young carers in charge of the family finances.
- Banking. Shop around. Money Saving Expert offers a fantastic up to date range of offerings from the high street to the digital bank all desperate for new customers. Be sure to use a separate account to pay bills from using direct debits. You can even use standing orders to move your bills money automatically.
- Utilities. Sign up to an auto switching site like USwitch that checks the best deals for your gas and electric – that way you won’t forget to check for a better price. There are also apps and websites such as WonderBill that can help you see all your bills in one place.
- Talk and prioritise. Debtors who shout the loudest are often not the ones who need paying first. Learn to prioritise your debts, understand the consequences of not repaying but above all talk to your debtors who may be unaware of your situation. Once you start to communicate you can work out repayment plans and gain breathing space.
- Budgeting. Spending just half an hour a week sitting down and planning your income and outgoings can help you get a grip on what can often feel like a runaway problem. Start small, for instance the weekly shop. The Money Advice Service and chatbot apps such as Cleo can help divide your needs, wants and savings to manage unexpected costs.
- Review and redo. Money management is a constant. Deals change, new benefits and entitlements become available and the best deal today may not be there tomorrow. Do not just let contracts roll over, make a note of when your deals come to an end, start to research – very handy with mobile phones, have the info ready when it’s time to discuss a fresh plan. Charities such as Young Carer, Turn2Us and the Carers Trust, can keep you abreast of all the latest developments on allowances, assessments and additional assistance.
Quilter is a member of Kickstart Money, an alliance of the UK’s leading investment firms supporting financial education for tens of thousands of young people, delivered by MyBnk. The Carers Trust is one of their core charity partners.
“For a young person, learning to live independently can be stressful enough, but young carers have huge added responsibilities. Being able to spot the best energy deal can be the difference between keeping the lights on and food in the fridge. The key is optimising the million and one things they have to do.” Andy Small, Education Officer, MyBnk.
“Managing household finances is daunting and confusing no matter how old you are. It’s hard to credit that young unpaid carers not only have to wrap their head around day to day caring duties, but also have to keep on top of complex finances. Unpaid carers are propping up the social care system in the UK and we need to be sure that industries and the government are doing all we can to give them the right information and support.” Jane Goodland, Corporate Affairs Director, Quilter.
“Being a carer at a young age can have serious financial implications for young people looking to transition into working life. They are often only able to work at certain hours of the day, and many need to stay near home where the only employment available is often low-paid and insecure. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that carers at the age of 21 are much more likely to be in low-paid work than their peers. I’d urge any young adult struggling with the challenges of financial planning while caring for someone to get in touch with Carers Trust. We can then direct them to their local carers service where they can get the free and impartial information they need to help get their finances on to a stable footing.” Giles Meyer, CEO at Carers Trust.