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Carers UK reacts to Joseph Rowntree report on poverty

07 February 2020

Today the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published its latest report on poverty, which shows as many as a quarter of unpaid carers in the UK are living in poverty.

Other findings show:

  • Working-age carers have a higher rate of poverty than those with no caring responsibilities, and women of working age who are carers have the greatest risk of all.
  • The inability to work is the key driver for poverty among carers. In 2017/18, 36% of working-age carers were not in work, compared with 23% of non-carers.
  • If you care for 20 hours or more a week, you have a higher risk of being in poverty than if you care for fewer than 20 hours. However, to receive Carer’s Allowance you must care for 35 hours or more per week.
  • Those who care 35+ hours a week are three times less likely to be working as those caring fewer than 20 hours a week.
  • The weekly household income is £100 a week less for people who are caring.
  • Carer prevalence is at its highest among working-age adults in their 50s and early 60s, who are twice as likely to be carers as younger adults.

Commenting on the report, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:

“The fact that a quarter of people caring unpaid for family members and friends are living in poverty is absolutely unacceptable and shows the lack of value our government places on their contribution, despite them holding our broken social care system together.

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s findings underline the shocking scale of the financial hardship endured by carers, especially working age women.

“Yet this is nothing new. 2 in 5 carers looking after someone full-time tell us they struggle to make ends meet and every day, 600 people give up paid work to look after their older or disabled relatives. Few are able to rely on our underfunded social care system. It is not right, or fair, that carers bear this pressure on top of already demanding caring responsibilities.

“As a first urgent step, the Government needs to “right a wrong” and raise Carer’s Allowance, which is the lowest benefit of its kind at only £66.15 per week.

“Carers should be supported to work if they’re able and want to. The Government has promised to introduce unpaid care leave and we welcome this important step forward, but we would prefer to see this paid so that carers can take the leave regardless of their financial situation.

“It is crucial that the Prime Minister delivers on his promise of social care reform, soon. We hope to see ambitious plans coupled with sustainable, long term investment so that UK families can enjoy much better health, finances and quality of life than they do currently.”

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