Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
Member Login

Member login

No account? JOIN US

Carers lose £11,000 a year in earnings

07 December 2007

New statistics, published to coincide with Carers Scotland's Carers Rights Day, Friday 7 December 2007, show that the average loss in earnings last year by carers who had either to give up their job, reduce their hours or take a more junior position in order to care for sick, frail or disabled relatives or partners, was £11,291. Financial compensation through the Carer's Allowance benefit – provided a carer is eligible by earning under £95 a week – is just £48.65 a week.


Carers lose £11,000 a year in earnings

The findings, published by Carers Scotland and Carers UK in the report 'Out of Pocket', come from a survey¹ of 3,000 carers which shows the extent of the financial difficulties which carers face – particularly older carers in their late fifties and early sixties, and those who are caring for more than 50 hours a week.

Currently around one in five of the nation's 376,000 carers of working age have to give up their employment in order to care. Men lose out on an average of £13,681 per annum compared to an average of £10,083 per annum for women.

Nearly 45 per cent of working age carers say that they would like to work but more than a third (38%) say they cannot work unless they have the right care services.

"This report demonstrates for the first time the extent of the financial penalty faced by carers through showing the amount of earning lost by carers annually." says Patrick Begley, Director of Carers Scotland.

"Besides the monetary penalties of caring there are other negative consequences to giving up work, such as the loss of workplace skills, social isolation and reduced confidence. This makes it much harder for carers to return to work in the future. It also means that they are less able to save for their retirement or for their own future care needs."

The same research study for Carers Scotland finds that a third of carers are in debt and one in ten cannot afford their rent or mortgage.

The main reasons that carers are often forced to give up work or reduce their hours are:

Lack of appropriate support services

Between 40 and 50 percent of working carers say that a lack of flexibility and sensitivity in the delivery of services hampers them in obtaining support. Only 25 per cent say that they have adequate support from formal services for them to be able to combine work and care.²

A lack of flexibility at work, or unsupportive colleagues

More than half those surveyed said that their employers are 'carer-friendly'² and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) recently found that employers had accepted 93 per cent of requests – either in full or with an agreed compromise. However, anecdotally, calls to the Carers Scotland's helpline indicate that awareness is low among some managers, proving the importance of training and designing policies for carers.

Benefit rules which stop carers from working

The fact that carers can only earn £95 a week to receive the Carer's Allowance which traps them in low-wage jobs.

A refusal by the person they care for to accept formal care services

This highlights the need for flexible and appropriate services which looks at the support the family requires as a whole – and possibly a service to

help the carer.

Carers Scotland and Carers UK have submitted extensive recommendations to Government to inform not only the current review of the Prime Minister's UK National Strategy for Carers, but also the Standing Commission on Carers which, it is hoped, will provide leadership and direction over the next decade

Key recommendations include:

o A complete overhaul of the way health and social care services are provided, with a much stronger focus on supporting carers with innovative and forward-thinking policies to remain in or return to work.

o Greater investment in social care - improving training, status and pay in the social carer workforce, stimulation of the care market and greater resources for support agencies.

o New legislation to make it illegal to discriminate against carers

o A full review of carers' benefits

o A new social contract for carers which makes it clear what the state, employers, families and other services will provide, and what individuals have to contribute.

o The right to request flexible working to all employees – to make it the norm and reduce any stigma

o Jobcentre Plus to make carers a priority group

o Better information and advice for carers

"Although we have moved forward in terms of helping working-age carers, there is still a long way to go to give carers a genuine choice about whether they can work or not, or what job they may wish to do." continues Patrick Begley.

"We now have strong evidence from carers themselves. We need the political will across Government to go that bit further - to recognise the challenges carers face and give them the life choices we take for granted."

"Accessing information and advice also plays a crucial role in enabling carers to make choices about their lives. Whether it's meals on wheels, extra help in the morning, new technology, financial help or changing their work patterns, knowing what support is available can give carers the vital choice about staying in work or not."

"To help carers make these choices, Carers Scotland has produced a new free guide for carers - "Looking after someone" - to coincide with Carers Rights Day, which informs them of their rights and entitlements.

"We also held a conference, "Caring Costs", in Glasgow on 5 December to highlight the financial costs of caring and to give carers information about their rights and the chance to hear more about Scottish Government policies aimed at supporting their caring role.

"At the event, Cathy Peattie Falkirk East MSP and Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Carers at the Scottish Parliament launched a further two new information guides published by Carers Scotland. . Over 170,000 people in Scotland begin caring each year with their caring role ending for the same proportion. These new information guides- "New to caring" and "When caring comes to an end" - have been developed to help carers at these crucial stages in their caring journey. "

'Looking after someone: a guide to carers rights and benefits' is available free by calling the Carers Scotland helpline: 0808 808 7777 or by visiting Copies of "New to caring" and "When caring comes to and end" are available by contacting Carers Scotland on 0141 221 9141.

The theme of Carers Rights Day 2007, which is run by Carers Scotland and Carers UK, is 'Caring Costs'. Throughout the UK, a record number of nearly 1,200 groups have signed up to take part in events and activities

Back to top