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Census reveals major rise in numbers of unpaid family carers

11 December 2012

The number of people providing unpaid care for disabled, sick or elderly relatives and loved ones has risen substantially in the last decade.

Census data released today (11/12/12) by the government reveals that the number of carers increased from 5.2 million to 5.8 million in England and Wales between 2001 and 2011. The greatest rise has been among those providing over 20 hours care – the point at which caring starts to significantly impact on the health and wellbeing of the carer, and their ability to hold down paid employment alongside their caring responsibilities.

Across England and Wales there are now a staggering 2.1 million people providing over 20 hours a week -  a rise of almost half a million people in the last 10 years. Those providing the most number of hours of care – over 50 hours a week and very often caring round-the-clock - has in itself risen by 270,000 and is up from 1,088,000 to 1,360,000.

The 2011 Census reveals Wales still has the highest percentage of residents who are providing care compared with any other region in England.

Heléna Herklots Chief Executive of Carers UK said:

“The Census 2011 results show that caring is a growing issue as our population changes and ages. An increase of 11% in carer numbers is a really significant rise. We are going to see many more families struggling and becoming physically, emotionally and financially overwhelmed by caring as their health suffers, as they fall out of employment and as their relationships are pushed to breaking point because they cannot get the right support.

At a time when public finances are the tightest they have been for decades and with local authority and welfare budgets under pressure – not to mention families’ own finances - it is vital that carers receive the fullest support possible.”

  • Regional and local carer numbers can be found here.
  • Carers UK can provide spokespeople and caring case studies
  • Recent research by Carers UK showed that the care provided by friends and family to ill, frail or disabled relatives saves the state £119 billion a per year. The main carers’ benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is £58.45 for a minimum of 35 hours – equivalent to £1.67 an hour, and is currently received by 600,000 people.



Chloe Wright 0207 378 4942/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Maggie Stratton 0207 378 4936/ Out of hours mobile: 07875724088

Notes for Editors:

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