TEENAGE carers are to be given grants worth £300 a year as part of a new package of support.

The grants will be awarded to those aged 16 to 18 who are at still at school and do at least 16 hours of caring a week.

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.

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The grants will be available from autumn 2019.

Those who qualify will also be eligible for free bus travel from 2020/21.

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 it would provide "valuable extra help to this group of people".

“Young carers make an invaluable contribution to society," she said.

"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.”

Citizens Advice Scotland described it as a "welcome start towards providing additional financial support for young carers".

Spokesman Rob Gowans said: "We look forward to further details on the grant, including clarity on whether young carers will be given the choice of receiving the grant in cash, as well as receiving discounts.

“We would also recommend the Scottish Government give further consideration to whether the Young Carer Grant should be extended to young carers under the age of 16.

“As part of the development of a Scottish Carer’s Allowance, CAS would encourage the Scottish Government to equalise access to Carer’s Allowance by removing the current restrictions on carers in full-time education receiving the benefit.

"No young carer should have to choose between caring for their loved one and pursuing their education because of financial considerations.”

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “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.”