[Sub ID 4881] Carer Payment 25 hour rule (Behavioural Insights Team (Australia))

Submission ID: 4881
Organisation name: Behavioural Insights Team (Australia)
Contact name: Mr Ravi Dutta
State: NSW
Contact email: info-aus@bi.team

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?

Young carers

What need or issue are you trying to address?
One of the most significant barriers to future employment for young carers is their inability to access education and training opportunities relative to their peers. Young carers are less likely to complete high school, go on to further education, or to be employed on a full-time basis, even after their caring role has ceased or lessened.

Although there are currently many initiatives focussed on addressing this, such as the young carer’s bursary program, a significant barrier to the success of these initiatives lies in the specification that young carers cannot access their carer’s payment if they are studying or working for more than 25 hours in a week. There is early evidence that this 25 hour cap creates perverse outcomes among young carers, who are then:

• Incentivised to drop out of or not engage with further study or employment
• Forced to make important life choices (for example, course choice) based on arbitrary factors such as the number of course contact hours, or geographic location of the institution
• Compelled into a problematic relationship with welfare agencies and consider concealing study or employment to circumvent rules

What is your idea?
Our idea is to robustly evaluate the impact of raising or removing the 25 hour cap. This encourages a dramatic rethinking of the way that the government provides financial support to young carers. Rather than dictating how they should organise themselves as carers, we are empowering them with the ability to decide how best to structure their own study and work choices. Large-scale, experimental and longitudinal assessment of the idea is required as the overall impact of change is difficult to anticipate in advance or through a small pilot.

The first phase will be to conduct qualitative and quantitative research with the young carer population and their care recipients to assess the demand, risks, and best ways to target and frame changing the cap. For example, this will allow us to determine whether raising or removing the cap would be more impactful and cost effective. We will also explore whether it is preferable and possible to taper payments, whereby rather than having 25 hours as a firm cap, the payment is reduced gradually as the number of contact hours increases. The benefits of this approach would have to be assessed in conjunction with the interplay of other benefits and allowances (for e.g. youth allowance, rent assistance, the carer’s allowance and any new support within the NDIS).

We will then run a trial exploring the effect of lifting the cap. This will be achieved either by seeking expressions of interest from young carers across Australia to be involved in the research and then randomising them into treatment and control groups. Alternatively, we could target a specific group of young carers such as those already studying and working between 20 and 25 hours, and offer a randomised subgroup to have the cap lifted.