Our research report Cycles of caring: transitions in and out of unpaid care has been published by Carers UK in collaboration with the Centre for Care at the University of Sheffield, to coincide with Carers Rights Day 2022. Authored by Dr Maria Petrillo, Professor Matt Bennett and Professor Gwilym Pryce, the research found that over the period 2010-2020:
- Every year, 4.3 million people became unpaid carers – 12,000 people a day
- Every year, more than 4 million people left their unpaid caring roles
- Every year, more than 1.9 million people in paid employment became unpaid carers
- On average, 7% of women and 6.2% of men became unpaid carers – more than 2.3 million women and nearly 2 million men every year
- Women are more likely to enter into and exit unpaid care and provide more hours of unpaid care than men
- People aged 46-65 were the largest age group to become unpaid carers (41%)
This research demonstrates that awareness campaigns, like Carers Rights Day and Carers Week, are vital in supporting those who are new to caring and raising awareness of caring amongst those who may not yet recognise themselves as carers. Carers can sometimes take several years to identify themselves as carers and are missing out on crucial support.
Given that caring is so dynamic, pathways to support should be flexible and responsive to people’s changes in circumstances. The report calls on the UK and Nation Governments to introduce a strategic approach to identifying carers, introduce awareness raising campaigns as well as launching a new funded National Carers Strategy in England to better support carers. The NHS and employers should put systems in place to better identify and support carers.
Given that there are so many carers are in paid employment when they start their caring journey, UK Government should implement better statutory provisions for employees, ensuing Carer’s Leave Bill, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill get implemented quickly and therefore support more carers to stay in paid employment for as long as possible.