On 15 March 2022, Carers UK released vital new research which shows that unpaid carers are now facing unprecedented financial challenges in light of the UK’s cost of living crisis. Without urgent support from Government, we are extremely worried that many will be unable to continue caring.
A UK-wide survey of 3,300 carers that we conducted in February reveals that thousands of carers are now having to make extremely difficult choices about whether they eat or heat their homes. Many cannot afford both. Others are having to get into debt to manage their living costs or are turning to foodbanks and other means of support to cope. Just under half (45%) of all unpaid carers responding to the survey are currently unable to manage their monthly expenses, while 46% of the carers surveyed felt the oncoming increases in energy bills will negatively affect their own physical and mental health or that of the person they care for. Things are even tougher for carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or the Carer Element of Universal Credit; 58% were worried they will have to use a foodbank, while 55% are worried that increased energy bills will mean they have to cut back on food.
This is not sustainable and without urgent intervention, will lead to carers breaking down and being unable to continue caring for friends and family – instead passing the costs of doing so onto local authorities and the state. In the past two years, the care and support provided by unpaid carers has been staggering - £193 billion per annum, outstripping the entire cost of the NHS
To ensure carers are supported during this extremely difficult time, we are calling on the UK Government to immediately provide additional and targeted financial support for carers - particularly those on the lowest incomes.