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Valuing Carers 2015

We have found that the value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is now £132 billion each year.

We want Government to recognise the contribution made by carers, including the value of the care they provide to the UK economy, and provide the necessary support that carers need to be able to care effectively. 

Carers UK has already submitted evidence to the Treasury and the Chancellor ahead of the Spending Review. We have five key asks we want the Government to act on in the Spending Review.

The more support we have, from carers raising this with their MP and the Chancellor, the stronger our voice will be.

As part of our We care. Don’t you? campaign we are calling on Government, ahead of the Spending Review, to:

  • Urgently address the chronic underfunding of the social care system
  • Improve financial support for carers
  • Promote a carer-friendly NHS
  • Introduce a right to paid care leave
  • Stimulate a diverse care market to give carers better choice and flexibility

What is the report about?

Valuing Carers 2015 – the rising value of carers’ support is the third in a series of research reports looking at the value to the UK economy of the support provided by unpaid carers. The report is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, University of Leeds and Carers UK.

Valuing Carers 2015 found that:

The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is now £132 billion per year, almost double its value in 2001 (£68 billion).

£132 billion is close to the total annual cost of health spending in the UK, which was £134.1 billion in the year 2014-2015.

The value of carers’ contribution is growing, primarily because carers are providing more hours of care and partly due to the increased hourly cost of paid home-care. Carers are providing more care because:

  • our ageing population means that more people in the UK are needing care for longer
  • support services are not keeping pace with the UK’s increasing care needs, meaning that families are having to step in to fill the gap

How was the value of carers’ contribution worked out?

The value of carers’ contribution to the state was worked out by multiplying the number of hours carers spend providing unpaid care by what it would cost a local authority to replace this care with home care services.

The number of hours carers spend providing unpaid care was worked from data collected for the Census in 2011, which outlined the number of people who provided unpaid care for 1-19 hours a week, 20-49 hours a week and over 50 hours a week. This was then multiplied by the official unit cost of replacement care in 2015, which is £17.20/hour. This is in line with the official estimate of the actual cost per hour of providing home care to an adult. For the detailed methodology of how it was calculated, please see Appendix B in the report.

What is replacement care? How is the unit cost of replacement care £17.20/hour when we know that care workers only get paid the minimum wage?

For the purpose of this report, replacement care is defined by the level of home care support someone would need if a family member or friend was no longer able to care for them.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre calculates the cost of providing replacement at £17.20/hour. This cost is the gross total (i.e. it includes capital charges and is before any deducting client contributions); it represents the average hourly cost to the local authorities of providing home care.

What is the Spending Review? How is Carers UK hoping to influence it?

The Spending Review (you might see this abbreviated to SR or CSR) is led by the Treasury and headed up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. It will determine how the government will spend public money over the course of the Parliament. This process will set out the budgets for each government department until 2019/20 (known as departmental settlements). The Spending Review 2015 is being published on 25 November 2015, along with the Autumn Statement.


What are your full recommendations for the Spending Review?

We have put forward the following recommendations for the Spending Review:

  • Urgently address the chronic underfunding of the social care system: The pressure on carers to provide greater levels of care with reducing levels of support is unsustainable. A lack of adequate, sufficient or affordable care services to back-up families and enable them to have a life of their own alongside caring is pushing them to breaking point. Also, the future health of the NHS depends on a properly funded social care system.
  • Improve financial support for carers: Nearly half of carers providing the greatest levels of support have told Carers UK that they are struggling to make ends meet. The Government must set out a clear strategy for improving carers’ incomes and this must form a key part of the new cross-Government Carers Strategy.
  • Promote a carer-friendly NHS: A new stream of work to make the NHS more responsive to the needs of carers, such as introducing annual health checks or Carers Passports, is imperative to promoting the health of carers and enabling them to provide care without putting their own health at risk.
  • Introduce a right to paid care leave: Nearly half of carers are in work but many struggle with the strain of juggling work and care. As demand for care continues to increase and the state retirement age rises, the dual pressure of balancing care and work is becoming a reality for more and more people. Carers UK is calling for a mandatory period of paid care leave of 5-10 days so that carers can juggle their caring responsibilities without it impacting negatively on their employment and, therefore, their financial security.
  • Stimulate a diverse care market to give carers better choice and flexibility: Far from replacing family care, strong social care support enables families and close friends to care while remaining part of the labour market, generating revenue for Government while securing their own long term financial security.
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