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Unpaid carers save NI state £19 million every day of the pandemic

25 November 2020
  • Care provided by families in Northern Ireland valued at £4.8 billion over course of the pandemic so far
  • Carers NI calls on Government to recognise contribution of hundreds of thousands of carers and protect their health and wellbeing

With every day of the COVID-19 pandemic that passes, unpaid carers are saving the NI state £19 million in the care they provide, new research by charity Carers NI shows.

The research, released for Carers Rights Day, estimates that the care provided by people looking after older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends during the pandemic stands at £4.8 billion so far, after just eight months.

Previous research by the charity found that the majority (85%) of carers in Northern Ireland have been taking on more care since the start of the pandemic and 73% said they are exhausted and worn out as a result.

Carers NI is calling on the Government to provide additional support for carers over winter (including wider promotion of Carers Assessments) and ensure an action plan with carers is co-produced to restore essential services that will support carers to transition back to some sort of normality while COVID-19 remains present.

With many crucial face-to-face support services such as day centres and support groups significantly reduced – or in many cases closed – because of costly infection and control measures, Carers NI is warning that people caring round the clock are going to break down after months of caring without respite.

Clare-Anne Magee, Head of Carers NI, warned:

“Eight months on from the beginning of this pandemic, carers continue to feel they have been abandoned. Worrying about the coming winter period is causing stress and anxiety, many carers have not had a break from caring since the lockdown began and are at breaking point.

“We are urging the safe return of short breaks and services to support carers as quickly and as safely as possible. Carers must be part of the planning for the restoration of support services for those they care for.

“The Government has to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by carers in Northern Ireland during this pandemic – the value of which is a staggering £19 million every single day - and prioritise their health, wellbeing and resilience this winter.”

The charity is also calling on the Government to increase the income of carers entitled to Carer’s Allowance, just £67.25 a week, by £20 a week, to match the increase made months ago to Universal Credit. This would help carers providing 35 hours or more of unpaid care each week manage both the higher costs of caring in the winter and the lack of services available to help them stay in work.

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