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Helping young carers manage the family finances

25 days ago

Jane Goodland

Corporate Affairs Director

20 June 2019

June 10th 2019 marked the start of Carer’s Week. These seven days aim to raise awareness of the amazing work carers do and the challenges they face often for 365 days a year. Unpaid carer’s contribute a massive amount to their families but also prop 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.

In the UK, there are 376,000 young people aged 16–25 with unpaid caring responsibilities. However, many young carers are hidden from view, slipping under the radar of vital support services, including financial aid and education. A good example of this is a damning recent government report, which found that 67% of current or past young carers had not received any support.

Young carers take on a wide range of responsibilities for their loved ones, from physical and personal care, to cooking, cleaning, looking after siblings, and also juggling household finances. Taking on another person’s finances as well as your own can be particularly daunting, especially for young carers who may only just be getting to grips with their own finances. Financial education charity MyBnk, who deliver the Kickstart Money schools programme, have named a number of five tips for young carers in charge of the family finances:

  1. Banking. Shop around. Money Saving Expert offer 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

These tips are by no means exhaustive but can go some way to helping carers who have to take on the daunting task of running the household finances. Being able to optimize the myriad of different tasks that make up a household’s finances can make a tangible difference to the amount of money in your pocket and also reduce the stress that comes with handling this tricky task.