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Over 161,000 people in Scotland become carers for older, sick or disabled loved ones every year

by Fiona Collie 28 November 2014
  • That’s nearly 800,000 people in Scotland to become unpaid carers in the next five years
  • 30,000 carers in Scotland are missing out on nearly £94 million of unclaimed Carer’s Allowance
  • 42 per cent of carers across the UK miss out on financial support

New research by the charity Carers Scotland reveals that an estimated 161,290 people in Scotland take on a new unpaid caring role for relatives for relatives and friends who are sick or disabled each year but, unless changes are made, will be left under-equipped to deal with the challenges of caring.

The analysis, published to coincide with national Carers Rights Day on Friday 28th November, shows that as our population ages, the pressure on families in Scotland to provide care and support to loved ones will continue to increase.

The research estimates that over 2.1 million people in the UK will find themselves in a new caring role every year, facing new challenges and often trying to juggle work and other family responsibilities with looking after an older, disabled or seriously ill relative or friend. This works out as just under 6,000 people a day or 10.6 million over the next five years. 2.1 million people across the UK also stop a caring role every year; 158,820 in Scotland.

Director of Carers Scotland, Simon Hodgson said:

“Taking on a new caring role can happen quite suddenly and people can be thrown into a situation which turns their lives upside down. It could be because a partner has a stroke, a parent has a fall or a child is born with a disability. It’s vital that anyone caring for a loved one seeks advice to ensure they are getting the services and support they are entitled to.

“Without help and assistance carers can find themselves facing financial hardship, health problems, emotional stress and relationship breakdown. They can be pushed to breaking point. This has serious consequences for individuals and families and for employers and the UK economy as a whole.

“A third of people caring at any one time will be new to that role. This presents a big challenge for services, local authorities and the NHS as they need to identify and reach out to new carers who are not accessing essential help and support. With the integration of health and social care and a new Carers Bill in progress, it’s an opportunity to make this happen for carers.”

Previous studies have shown that £1.1 billion of Carer’s Allowance goes unclaimed every year and 42 per cent of carers across the UK have missed out on financial support as a result of not getting the right information earlier. In Scotland 30,000 carers are missing out on more than £93million in unclaimed Carer’s Allowance.

Carers Rights Day, organised by Carers Scotland and Carers UK, brings together more than 900 organisations across the UK every year to help carers in local communities to know their rights.

Carers Scotland is calling on public bodies to make a number of changes to help carers access the support and services they are entitled to. These include a duty on health and education professionals to identify and support carers, improved access to information and advice and better partnership working between Government department and across nations.

New Carers Rights Guide

Carers Scotland has also launched a new Carers Rights Guide - Looking after someone and a new factsheet called Assessments: your guide to getting help to help carers find financial and practical support.

Download these, along with the Need to Know report, below.

Media contact:

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Out of hours contact: 07941273108/07866808393


The research was carried out by Michael Hirst of the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York on behalf of Carers UK.

Carers Rights Day is organised by Carers Scotland and Carers UK and the Carers Rights Guide is sponsored by Sainsbury’s plc.

Facts about carers:

  • There are 657,000 carers in Scotland which is set to rise to 1 million by 2037.
  • Across the UK there are 6.5 million people caring for a loved one who is older, seriously ill or disabled. This number is set to rise to 9 million by 2037.
  • Full-time carers are twice as likely to be in bad health as non-carers.
  • An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work at some point to care for older or disabled loved ones, and 3 million have cut working hours.
  • Over 132,000 in people (1.4 million in UK) care for over 50 hours a week.
  • Carers save the Scottish economy over £10 billion per year (£119 billion per year across UK) with the unpaid care they provide, an average of £18,473 per carer.

Source: Facts about carers (2014) Carers UK

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