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Unpaid carers face bleak financial future paying care costs on top of tens of hours of care every week

08 July 2019

Carers UK calls on leadership candidates to put UK’s families first and commit to funding adult social care

New research released today by Carers UK, the leading membership charity for people caring unpaid for family and friends, shows unpaid carers are “bankrupting their future to pay for the present”.

As well as providing significant levels of care themselves, more than two thirds (68%) of carers are also using their own income or savings to cover the cost of care, equipment or products for the person they care for. As a result many are struggling financially and unable to save for their own retirement.

A survey of over 7,500 people currently caring unpaid for family or friends, the majority of whom provide well over 50 hours of care every week, reveals the huge personal and financial cost of caring for a loved one, with two in five carers (39%) saying they are struggling to make ends meet. Those who take on caring responsibilities often struggle to juggle a job as well, with many reducing hours, turning down promotions or leaving work altogether.

The financial pressure on carers is having a knock on effect on their futures, with more than half (53%) of all carers unable to save for retirement.

Those struggling to make ends meet are the hardest hit as carers with little money to spare are forking out hundreds of pounds to cover the costs of essentials like nutritional supplements, bed pads and mobility equipment.

The vast majority (78%) of carers who report they struggle financially are paying towards the cost of care services or equipment for the person they support. For those on a low income or receiving Carer’s Allowance – the benefit for people caring for more than 35 hours a week and just £66.15 per week – it is a never ending struggle to make ends meet. Three quarters (73%) of this group are unable to save for retirement.

On top of the huge personal cost of care, crucial support is being cut with one in eight carers (12%) reporting that they or their loved one received less care or support in the previous year, as a result of reduced support from social services.

The survey findings paint a worrying picture of carers under immense financial, physical and mental strain and an underfunded social care system that is taking its toll on families.

  

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“This is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, with carers already providing high levels of support left short-changed as they use money for their retirement trying to cover the care costs of their loved one today.

“As it stands, providing unpaid care is pushing thousands of families into poverty and is having a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life.

“Our current social care system is on the brink. Families urgently need affordable, high quality care services and carers need access to regular breaks and stronger workplace rights to ensure they can combine work and care if they wish to.

“The leadership candidates cannot afford to ignore this burning issue affecting millions across the country and must commit to funding and delivering a reformed system that has families at its heart.”

Carers UK is urging the government to urgently put in place the financial and practical support that carers need, both in the short term and over the longer term, to ensure the sustainability of the health and social care system.

-ENDS-

Media contact

Please contact the Carers UK press office on:

  • 020 7378 4937 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday)
  • 07534 487 027/ 07941 273 108 (out of hours)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Full State of Caring PDF available here

Notes to editors

About State of Caring 2019

Carers UK carried out its annual online survey between March and May 2019. A total of 8,069 carers and former carers responded to the survey – we have only included responses from the 7,525 people who are currently providing care in this report.

Compared to the carer population as a whole, respondents to this survey were more likely to be female and caring for a high number of hours every week.

Of respondents to the survey:

  • 73% live in England, 10% live in Scotland, 9% live in Northern Ireland, and 8% live in Wales.
  • 81% identify as female and 18% identify as male.
  • 39% are in paid work (47% full-time and 53% part-time).
  • 31% have been caring for 15 years or more, 15% for between 10 – 14 years, 24% for 5 – 9 years, 26% for 1 – 4 years, and just 4% have been caring for less than one year.
  • 46% care for 90 or more hours every week, while 17% care for 50 – 89 hours, 23% care for 20 – 49 hours, and 13% care for 1 – 19 hours a week.

As not all respondents completed every question in the survey, a number of the figures given in this report, including those presented in this notes section, are based upon responses from fewer than 7,525 carers. This, together with the sample sizes of different groups, should be taken into consideration when reading the results.

 

About Carers UK

Carers UK is a charity led by carers, for carers – our mission is to make life better for carers.

  • We give expert advice, information and support
  • We connect carers so no-one has to care alone
  • We campaign together for lasting change
  • We innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers

For practical advice and information about caring, www.carersuk.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Carers UK Forum is our online community of carers and is available to Carers UK members 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: www.carersuk.org/forum.

Website:          www.carersuk.org

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/carersuk

Twitter:            @CarersUK

Carers UK is a charity registered in England and Wales (246329) and in Scotland (SC039307) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (864097).

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