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Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 15 January 2024


Nearly half of working age carers lose £12,000 of income per year because they provide care

This new report by Carers Scotland sets out the struggles that unpaid carers face in juggling paid work and unpaid care and the support that can help them stay in or return to work.


  • 56% of carers juggle paid employment alongside 35 hours or more of unpaid care.
  • 32% of carers of working age have given up work to care and 27% have had to reduce their working hours.
  • 24% of working age carers say they gave up work or cut hours because of a lack of social care services.
  • 20% of carers who gave up work to care said that an unsupportive workplace was one of the reasons for leaving employment.


More than half (56%) of the working carers who responded to Carers Scotland’s State of Caring survey were caring for 35 hours or more each week – equivalent to a full-time job – as well as working in paid employment or self-employment - either full or part-time.


32% of unpaid carers of working age reported that they had given up work to care, 27% had reduced their hours and 17% had taken on a less qualified job or turned down promotion. Affordable and accessible replacement social care is vital to enable carers to work, yet a quarter (24%) of working age carers said they had to give up work or cut hours because social care was not meeting their needs.


Given that over a third (36%) of working age carers say they would like to return to work or increase their hours if the right support was available, social care is crucial to enable this to happen


A supportive employer is also of significant importance, with half (50%) of working carers saying this helped them juggle work and care.


The consequences of a lack of support to help carers balance work and care can be long lasting. Giving up work, reducing hours and limiting career opportunities can lead to carers missing out on thousands of pounds of income.  One in four (42%) working age carers reported that they were losing £1,000 or more of income every month; 13% reported losing £2,000 or more per month. It is unsurprising that carers are also struggling with the cost of living with one in four (23%) working carers and 28% of all carers reporting that they are struggling to make ends meet. These impacts also last long into retirement with part-time workers less likely (84% v 65%) to be able to rely on an occupational pension on retirement and for those on Carer’s Allowance, less than half (45%) will have such a pension.


Sue McLintock, Carer Positive Manager, Carers Scotland said: 

A lack of support to enable carers both to stay in and return to paid work can have profound and long-lasting impacts. The loss of income and opportunity that carers face – whether they can remain in employment or not – is shocking. With nearly half of working age carers (49%) saying that they have been caring for 10 years or more this could amount to hundreds of thousands of lost pounds over their caring journey.


“This loss reverberates into retirement, with far too many carers reliant on just a State Pension, blocked from saving for a more comfortable retirement, and facing poverty in old age, by a lack of support from social care services and employers.


“There is a pressing need for employers, the Scottish and local government to do more to ensure that carers have the right support – at work and for their caring role – to remain in or return to employment if they wish to.”


The report sets out a range of recommendations for the Scottish Government, employers, local councils and health and social care partnerships about developing the environment that supports carers rather than providing barriers to their aspirations.


This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Carer Positive initiative, which is run by Carers Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government. The initiative supports employers to create carer friendly workplaces. To date over 260 organisations have achieved one of the three levels of accreditation (engaged, established or exemplary) and nearly 500,000 employees are covered by accredited employers."


Media contacts 

Alternatively, speak to Christine Robertson, Media and Communications Officer for Carers Scotland press office Tel: 07553 037992


Notes to Editor: 

  1. These findings come from Carers Scotland’s annual State of Caring Scotland survey, which was conducted between June and August this year and completed by 1,771 unpaid carers across the country. This report uses a sub-sample of 955 working age carers drawn from the 1,771 unpaid carers that responded to the full survey. 572 of those carers that responded were in paid employment at the time of completion.


  1. An unpaid carer is a family member, partner, friend or neighbour who helps a person with daily activities that they would not be able to manage if they did not have help. This could be a partner, family member or friend who has a long term or terminal illness, someone who is disabled, has a mental health condition, is affected by addiction or who needs extra help as they grow older. There are approximately 800,000 people in Scotland providing such unpaid care. It would cost an estimated £13.1 billion every year to replace the care they provide.


  1. Carers Scotland have been running the Carer Positive awards and supporting employers since it was launched during Carers Week in June 2014. Carer Positive raises awareness of the challenges facing working carers, and encourage employers to understand the business benefits of supporting those staff. They provide free information, support and advice to organisations across Scotland who want to develop support for staff with caring responsibilities. Find out more at

You can find the report in full in here:

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