Unpaid carers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds suffered even greater pressures including further economic hardship from the nations’ first lockdowns onwards, new data analysis by Carers UK suggests.
‘The experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Carers during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic’[i] is the latest of a series of reports, building to better understand the adverse impact of the pandemic on all unpaid carers. This is based on the charity’s research carried out which included the initial peak between April and September 2020 and into 2021.[ii]
The impact of the pandemic has been devastating in many ways for thousands of unpaid carers (13.6 million were caring at its peak). Examining a number of the charity’s reports produced in its first 18 months reveals the latest evidence that existing social and economic inequalities have been amplified and entrenched amongst some groups. Unpaid carers are no exception.
Unpaid carers in all communities are far more likely to suffer financial hardship as a result of performing the role but this is even more common amongst black, Asian and minority ethnic carers. This was before the additional pressure of the current cost of living crisis:
- In April 2020, over half (58%) of unpaid carers from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and 37% of white carers agreed or strongly agreed that ‘I am worried about my financial situation.’
- By September 2020, 38% said they were struggling to make ends meet. This was the case for 27% of white carers.
- Only a third (33%) of carers from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities said they could pay their bills without struggling by the Autumn, and just over a half (57%) of unpaid white carers.
- 68% of carers in black and minority ethnic groups said their bills had increased between Spring and Autumn in contrast to 50% of white unpaid carers.
Service closures also appeared to have had a different impact on some unpaid carers:
In April 2020, 35% of white carers said closures of services during lockdown was the reason they were providing more hours of care. This was true for 47% of black, Asian and minority ethnic carers. By last summer, just 14% of white carers felt confident they would have the practical support they needed for the next year, contrasting with an even smaller 10% of black, Asian and minority ethnic carers. Working carers rely on good quality social care to be able to feel confident the person they care for is getting the right support so they can continue to earn an income and support themselves and their families.
Carers UK, in partnership with Carers Trust, has received funding from the Covid 19 Support Fund to support the “Making Carers Count” project. This part of the three-year project seeks to understand the experiences of four traditionally under-represented groups of carers both during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matthew McKenzie, Co-Chair of the Carers black, Asian and minority ethnic advisory group said:
“It is concerning that carers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were more likely to be worried about making ends meet during the pandemic. We know that managing finances will become even more difficult for many carers as a result of the current cost-of-living crisis, and this may have an impact on carers’ physical and mental health. During this time of unprecedented financial hardship, it is vital that carers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are able to access the support they need. We will continue to support Carers UK with their research into the experiences of carers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, so that we have a greater understanding of the specific needs of carers from different groups as well as helping to highlight and champion examples of good practice.”
Commenting on the analysis, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“This is an important addition to help us further our understanding of the adverse impacts on unpaid carers in every community. We are seeing unprecedented levels of stress and financial worries piled on all. Thousands were already struggling to manage their monthly expenses before the cost of living crisis began and as this shows, existing concerns were growing back in 2020. That carers from disadvantaged communities were more likely to be struggling, stressed and anxious is a big concern given the situation now.
“Carers are propping up our health and care system at a huge cost to their own personal health, finances and ability to stay in work. Now the picture is growing even bleaker and there is an urgent need for targeted support for all unpaid carers now. Thousands more are being pushed into poverty that will have a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life. We need to see greater financial support to all unpaid carers immediately to help with spiralling bills including an immediate increase in Carers Allowance.
“We also urge carers from black, Asian and minority communities to complete our 2022 State of Caring survey, the biggest, most comprehensive snapshot of caring in the UK, to ensure we capture all carers’ experiences.”
[i] This report aims to compare the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic carers with their White British counterparts as well as examining trends over time, and to understand whether the additional experience of being of a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background has added to the challenges that all carers have faced due to COVID-19.
This report will be followed by a good practice briefing which sets out what service providers who support carers (such as local authorities, health bodies and the voluntary and community sector) can do to better support those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and address the problems highlighted in this research.
[ii] This research is based on several surveys undertaken by Carers UK. Pandemic data is based on the ‘Caring behind closed doors’ surveys, conducted in April and September 2020. More recent data is taken from the 2021 State of Caring Survey, the UK’s largest survey of unpaid carers. Each of these surveys were completed by thousands of carers across the UK and offer comprehensive data on carers’ experiences during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.