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Carers UK responds to extension of childcare vouchers for ‘sandwich generation’ families

05 August 2013

Charity says recognition of carers through proposed scheme could help increasing numbers of families struggling to manage work and care responsibilities.

Carers UK has responded to a move by Ministers to include families with full-time caring responsibilities in a proposed childcare benefit for working parents.

New detail released as the Government launches a consultation on its new Tax-free Childcare scheme outlines support for families with both parents in work – but also says families with a parent in work and a parent who is caring full-time and receiving Carer's Allowance should also be eligible.

Across the UK today there are 6.5 million people caring – a number that is rising rapidly. Over three million combine work with caring responsibilities for older or disabled loved ones (1). But Carers UK research has indicated that as many as 2.3 million have given up work at some point to care for ageing parents or a disabled friend or relative; many end up struggling to make ends meet and return to work when caring comes to an end.

Among these are also a rising number families who are ‘sandwich caring’ – working alongside raising dependent children and caring for an older, ill or disabled loved one.

Carers UK says inclusion of carers is an important first step in recognising the benefits for both families and the economy of supporting families with work and care responsibilities to stay in employment.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “More and more families are juggling childcare, work and caring for older or disabled loved ones. With an estimated 2.4 million of these ‘sandwich generation’ carers, it is essential that supporting carers of older relatives and disabled loved ones becomes as big a priority for Government, employers and workplaces as supporting parents of young children. As we respond to this consultation, we hope to work with the Government to further develop ways of supporting struggling families to manage caring responsibilities alongside childcare and work.”

Overall the cost to the economy of carers giving up work is estimated at £5.3 billion (2) a year. Carers UK also points to the increasing challenge for employers as additional Census figures show that 1 in 8 workers are juggling work with caring for older or disabled loved ones.

(1) Census 2011

(2) Age UK (2012) Care Crisis wipes out over £5.3 billion from the economy

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