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Carers urged to join new campaign

30 May 2007

Carers UK is urging carers, their friends and families to sign up to their new campaign, Real change, not short change, to secure a better deal for carers from Government.

People who care for elderly, sick or disabled relatives or friends, unpaid, are being asked to sign up at www.carersuk.org to help tell their stories about the financial hardships and challenges that they face as a direct result of being a carer.

There are 6 million carers living in the UK.

The move follows the publication of a deeply worrying new report on the long term financial impact of caring by Carers UK today (Wednesday, 30 May 2007).

Based on a survey of nearly 3,000 carers, it finds they face a severe financial penalty as soon as they start caring, unpaid, for a disabled or chronically ill relative or friend. The key findings are:

72% are worse off since they started caring

65% are not in paid work

54% give up work to care

53% say that financial worries are affecting their health

33% are in debt

30% are cutting back on food or heating

10% cannot afford to pay their rent or mortgage

The survey shows that carers are having to sell their homes, cut back on food, heating and clothes, give up their jobs, and sacrifice their pensions - leaving many deeply worried about their financial future.

It reveals very clearly that the current benefits system does not allow carers an acceptable standard of living and neither recognises nor values them for the contribution they make to the national economy – carers' support is worth a staggering £87 billion per year to the state.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK says:

"Carers feel short-changed by the system because the benefits system for care is so outdated and the support they need to balance work and caring is not there.

"Carers' benefits simply are not fit for purpose", Imelda Redmond continues. "They were designed in the 1970s when the world was a very different place. We're calling for a radical overhaul of the benefits system. We want carers to sign up to the Real change, not short change campaign to ease the constant financial pressure carers face and give carers them the same opportunities as everyone else to work, study and bring up their families."

Imelda Redmond concludes, "It is time we looked at income, benefits and opportunities to work for carers as a whole. The National Carers Strategy review is a golden opportunity to get it right."

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