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Scotland’s carers struggling with alarming levels of hardship, Carers Scotland inquiry reveals

30 January 2014

 12-month investigation exposes stark reality faced by those looking after loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill: loss of savings, debt and struggling to afford food and heating

SPIRALLING costs of caring, coupled with devastating cuts to support are leaving families caring for loved ones in serious hardship, new research by charity Carers Scotland reveals.

The charity’s Caring & Family Finances Inquiry shows vast numbers of carers accumulating unmanageable debt as they struggle to cope with loss of income, savings and benefits alongside rising everyday food, fuel and care related bills.

Key evidence includes:

  • Almost half (47%) are in debt as a result of caring. 1 in 6 carers in debt over £10,000
  • A fifth relying on overdraft or credit card to make ends meet
  • 1 in 3 over £20,000 worse off as a result of caring
  • Almost half cutting back on essentials like food (44%) and heating (46%)
  • 59% of carers are in fuel poverty
  • Savings of 1 in 10 carers totally drained by basic bills and everyday living costs
  • 170,112 people in Scotland had given up work to care at some point. Half of working-age carers in a household with no-one in paid work.

The Inquiry also reveals that, despite rapid rises in the number of families providing care to loved ones, Government cuts to support leave carers across the UK facing a shocking £1 billion cut.

And, Carers Scotland says, carers not only feel they are not recognised or valued but also feel victim of increasing public criticism for claiming their social security entitlements.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland said: “Those caring, unpaid, for loved ones save society vast sums, but at huge personal cost - a cost this Inquiry shows is pushing families to the brink. Caring is often a dual blow, with household incomes hit by reduced earnings, and bills rising as a result of the extra costs of ill-health or disability. With an ageing population, more of us will care for loved ones – yet a blizzard of cuts to social care and benefits mean there is less and less support available. This is unacceptable and unsustainable. This country’s carers are being badly let down. Unless Governments act to stop the cuts to support for carers there is the risk families will be pushed to breaking point and left unable to care for their own.”

In the Inquiry recommendations, Carers Scotland is calling for:

  • An end to cuts to carers’ benefits and support services.
  • Urgent reform of financial help for carers.
  • The UK and Scottish Governments to make a commitment that future policy will not leave carers worse off, by implementing a ‘carer’ test for future benefits and social care proposals.

The main carers’ benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is currently £59.75 a week for a minimum of 35 hours caring – equivalent to £1.67 an hour. It is not available to those who earn more than £100 per week or to those in receipt of the basic State Pension.

Experiences of carers who gave evidence to the Inquiry, included the need to keep the vulnerable and ill warm, meant families footing bills for running heating for 12 and more hours a day, with no let-up in warmer months when those with serious illness must be kept cool; costs of travel to medical appointments and the need to rely heavily on taxis; the need to wash three or more loads of washing a day when caring for someone with continence problems, or who is tube fed; the increasingly prohibitive price of buying in care to simply get out of the door for work or respite, compounding the isolation caring can bring; the cost to future financial security and resilience of quitting work or cutting hours to care.


• Fiona Collie 0141 445 3070 /This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
• Simon Hodgson 0141 445 3070 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes for Editors:

1. Evidence for the Caring & Family Finances Inquiry was gathered both through Carers UK’s State of Caring Survey of 3,500 carers and through detailed evidence sessions and interviews with carers of all ages and from a wide range of backgrounds across the UK including two sessions in Scotland.

2. Click here to download the full report and/or executive summary.

Five key facts about carers:

  • There are 660,000 carers in Scotland and over 6.5 million carers in the UK
  • Every year over 178,000 people become carers (2 million people in the UK)
  • Carers save the Scottish economy £10.3 billion per year – an average £18,473 per carer. In the UK as a whole carers save the economy £119 billion each year.
  • 3 in 5 people will be affected by caring responsibilities at some point in their lives
  • The main carers’ benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is £59.75 for a minimum of 35 hours - equivalent to £1.71 an hour


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