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Unpaid carers save £119 billion a year

11 May 2011

New estimates, calculated by charity Carers UK and the University of Leeds, show the care provided by friends and family members to ill, frail or disabled relatives is now worth a staggering £119 billion every year. (1)


  • The figure has risen by over a third since the 2007 estimate, which stood at £87 billion
  • Carers’ contribution now far outstrips the total cost of the NHS (£98.8 billion). (2)
  • The figure amounts to £2.3 billion per week and £326 million per day.

New estimates show that there are around 6.4 million people in the UK providing care for ill or disabled loved ones that would otherwise cost the state £18 an hour, meaning that each carer saves on average £18,473 a year.

Given this massive contribution, Carers UK argues that society must do more to support growing numbers of carers. Chief Executive Imelda Redmond CBE said:

“Our society and public services could not function without the massive contribution made by over 6 million carers in the UK. This contribution is something we can be proud of as a country, and demonstrates how strong our families and communities are.

With an ageing population, caring is becoming a fact of life for every family. Yet, whilst families are meeting this challenge, many are struggling with little or no help, or facing cuts to the care services and benefits they rely on. Unless we urgently rethink how our society supports carers, we will see increasing numbers pushed to breaking point – forced out of work and into poverty, ill-health and isolation.

These new figures send a clear message: carers contribute so much and they deserve better in return.”

Carers UK is calling for:

  1. An urgent review of Carer’s Allowance, which is the lowest benefit of its kind.
  2. The Government to think again about cuts to disability benefits which mean that disabled people and their families are being the hardest hit by cuts to the benefits that they depend on for their everyday lives. Carers UK is part of the Hardest Hit campaign
  3. Councils to protect funding for social care services to preserve the independence and dignity of disabled and older people and provide vital support to their families who care for them.
  4. Reform and sustainable funding of the care and support system to recognise carers’ contribution and allow carers to live healthy lives alongside caring.
  5. A new approach to supporting carers involving all parts of the society - including employer support in the workplace; being listened to and valued by public services and identified and supported in communities.

Carers can calculate their individual contribution using Carers UK’s new ‘Care Calculator’, as well as accessing advice and information on all aspects of caring, at

(1) Valuing Carers (2011) Carers UK and University of Leeds
(2) Public Expenditure 2009-2010 Provisional Outturn (July 2010) HM Treasury. Cm 9711

- ENDS -


Carers UK can provide spokespeople and case studies. Please contact:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to Editors:

  1. A full report Valuing Carers, written by Carers UK and Dr Lisa Buckner, University of Leeds gives national, regional and local estimates of carers’ contribution, and can be downloaded here
  2. The report estimates the increase in carer numbers since the 2001 Census (an increase from 5.8 million in 2001 to 6.4 million in 2011) and recalculates the value of the care they provide using the latest unit cost of providing care, £18 an hour.
  3. Carers can calculate the amount they individually save the save per year by entering the number of hours they care per day into a ‘Care Calculator’ at
  4. The Hardest Hit campaign is being run by the Disability Benefits Consortium of over 40 organisations who represent disabled and older people, those with long-term conditions and their families and carers. Further information can be found at
  5. Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick friend or a disabled family member. Carers UK:

    • supports carers and provides information and advice about caring
    • influences policy through our research based on carers’ real life experiences
    • campaigns to make life better for carers.
  6. University of Leeds, School of Sociology and Social Policy, has a broad and active research programme that informs and enlightens academic teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Hosting a number of substantial and vibrant research centres, the school received the second highest position in the country in terms of 'world-leading' research (4*) in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

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