The Office for National Statistics has released new data on the impact of Covid-19 on caring. The findings show:
- Almost half (48%) of UK adults report providing help or support to someone outside of their household during April 2020. This contrasts with pre-pandemic findings of 11% of adults providing some regular support or help for an elderly, disabled or ill person living outside their household.
- Of adults who reported providing help in April 2020, 32% were helping someone who they did not help before the pandemic and 33% reported giving more help to people they helped previously.
- Shopping was the most common activity that people undertook as part of their caring responsibilities (85%). Other support including cooking meals, helping with internet access and helping with tasks like paying bills.
- Those aged 45 to 54 were the most likely group to provide support - 60% of this age group reported doing this. Women were more likely than men to provide support, as were those with dependent children
Commenting on the ONS figures, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“In a matter of months, millions of people – most in their 40s and 50s and holding down a job - have started caring unpaid for family members and friends who would otherwise manage ok on their own, but are now at risk of the virus.
“Providing a small amount of unpaid care from afar will have been manageable for some. But hundreds of thousands of people with far more intense caring roles are unable to rely on care services to help them, bringing nothing but stress and exhaustion.
“Those who have started caring during the pandemic are more likely to be managing work and childcare alongside their caring responsibilities - an incredibly demanding task, which, without support from employers or care services can be too much to manage. Already, we see 600 people every day giving up paid work to care, at a huge cost to the economy and personal finances.
“Unpaid carers have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. Many are at the point of break down, having been unable to access the care and support services they need. Their physical and mental health is in jeopardy and they desperately need a break.
“The Government must recognise this immense pressure on carers and ensure their physical and mental health is protected and that they are given access to a break. The priority must be reinstating care and support services as soon as possible. Carers deserve far more support for their contribution throughout this crisis.”