- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual carers were more likely to feel lonely and worried about their finances than their heterosexual peers
- This group was five times as likely to say they had received reduced support from local charities than heterosexual carers
Unpaid carers who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual were more likely to be lonely and worried about their finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, new analysis by Carers UK suggests.
Survey data through the first 18 months of the UK’s first lockdown reveals the latest evidence that existing social and economic inequalities have been amplified and entrenched amongst some groups.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual carers were more likely to feel lonely during the pandemic than heterosexual carers. In 2021, 48% of bisexual carers reported that they often or always felt lonely, compared with 45% of lesbian and gay carers, and 33% of heterosexual carers.
This cohort of carers were also more concerned about their financial situations. 65% of bisexual carers and 62% of lesbian and gay carers said they felt anxious or stressed when thinking about their financial situation, compared to 50% of heterosexual carers.
The analysis reveals the closure of local care and support services disproportionately impacted lesbian, gay and bisexual carers. During the pandemic, this group was significantly more likely to say they were receiving reduced support from local charities than heterosexual carers, with 1 in 10 (11%) saying they had a lower level of support than before the pandemic, compared to 2% of heterosexual carers. In addition, more than 1 in 5 (22%) of lesbian and gay carers were providing more care as they were concerned about the safety or quality of local services compared to just 10% of heterosexual carers and 2% of bisexual carers.
Carers UK’s data found key distinctions in caring experiences between lesbian, gay and bisexual carers. Lesbian and gay carers were more likely to be caring for a parent, and bisexual carers were more likely to be caring for a child. In addition, lesbian, gay and bisexual carers were more likely to be caring for a neighbour or friend than heterosexual carers.
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.
Dave Williams, Co-Chair of the Carers UK LGBT carers advisory group and Chief Officer at Manchester Carers Forum, said:
"It's really concerning that lesbian, gay and bisexual carers were more likely to be worried about their finances during the pandemic. With rising energy prices, we know that managing finances will become even more difficult for carers over the coming months, creating additional stress. This is extremely worrying given that LGBTQ+ people are already more likely to report poor mental health and to feel lonely. During this time of unprecedented financial hardship, it's more important than ever that LGBTQ+ carers are able to access the support they need. We will continue to support Carers UK with their research into the experiences of LGBTQ+ carers including the forthcoming LGBTQ+ carers good practice guide which will highlight some of the specific needs of carers from these groups as well as practical recommendations on developing inclusive services."
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“We know the pandemic had a significant impact on unpaid carers as a whole, but it is concerning to discover the extent to which lesbian, gay and bisexual carers were impacted. More work needs to undertaken to ensure that all carers get the support they need, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
“With the spiralling cost-of-living crisis, carers’ finances are being even more tightly squeezed than during the pandemic, and the increasing cost of care services is becoming too much for some. The Government must urgently deliver sustainable funding for social care and prioritise unpaid carers for targeted financial support – so that carers and their families are not pushed further into poverty.”