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Embargoed 00.01 25 June 2024


Charity calls for Scotland to unlock the door of opportunities for Scotland’s unpaid carers

  • Four in 10 unpaid carers are ‘not at all confident’ about their future employability.
  • A new report published by Carers Scotland and authored by the University of Strathclyde has highlighted the barriers faced by Scotland’s unpaid carers looking to enter the labour market.

The study, which included a survey of 320 unpaid carers and focus groups with unpaid carers and representatives from the employability sector, found that 69% of unpaid carers wanted to be employed as it meant that they could lead a life beyond caring, with over half (55%) wanting to increase their earnings beyond just covering bills.

However, one third of carers (32%) in the survey stated that ‘carer discrimination’ was a specific challenge to entering and remaining in employment. Many carers (62%) also described the number of hours they needed to provide care for as a barrier to employment, 59% worried about employers not understanding their caring role and its demands while 49% had worries about the lack of flexible working options available to them.

Many unpaid carers also described failing support from social care as a barrier to entering the labour market with 42% of unpaid carers describing not having access to social care or replacement care.

The report includes a number of recommendations and Carers Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government to commission a new employability action plan focused on unpaid carers to deliver those recommendations. It is also calling for unpaid carers to be considered a priority by local employability partnerships across Scotland leading to more specific support for carers that reflect their needs.


Richard Meade, Director Carers Scotland said:

“Many unpaid carers want to be employed alongside the caring role, but often do not get the support they need. We need to see more comprehensive employability support for those unpaid carers that want to be employed to help them return to the labour market and to stay in a job once they have one.

“Being employed not only supports the unpaid carer financially, but crucially offers a life outside of caring and a chance to pursue careers they have invested education, training and passion in. It’s time we unlocked the door of opportunity for Scotland’s unpaid carers.”


Dr Harleen Rai, Strathclyde University said:

“Our research is grounded in the real-life experiences of unpaid carers who, through their engagement, have shared their unique stories with us. While no carer journey is the same, it is clear that unpaid carers are highly motivated to be in employment for many reasons but are often met with insurmountable barriers which can be both disheartening and frustrating. We need a collective effort to strengthen current employability support while putting the individual at its centre and increasing sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of unpaid carers for their desired employment”.


Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

“Across Scotland, too many people who care for others are exposed to financial hardship and poverty due to their caring not being properly valued, rewarded and supported. Unpaid carers often feel let down at every turn; they’re forced to rely on inadequate levels of social security while facing multiple barriers to accessing paid employment. It’s time for both employers and all levels of government to step up, scale up and speed up the support offered to unpaid carers to ensure that no one faces the injustice of poverty as a consequence of caring.” 





Notes to editors:

  • This research was kindly funded by Oxfam Scotland.
  • Carolynne Hunter, an unpaid carer who is also employed at PAMIS, and was a member of the Steering Group for this research is available to speak to the media. Interviews/comments available via contact details below.
  • Carers Scotland is a carer-led organisation working with an on behalf of unpaid carers. There are an estimated 800,000 unpaid carers in Scotland who save the Scottish economy £10.8 billion every year. Carers provide support to family and friends who have disabilities, long term conditions or frailty associated with older age to enable them to live independently in their own homes and communities.




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