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Unpaid carers pushed to breaking point and may be forced to quit work, warns Carers Scotland as new figures reveal devastating impact of COVID-19

by Fiona Collie 20 October 2021
  • Seven in 10 unpaid carers (70%) who use day services have reduced or no access because of COVID-19
  • Only 16% of carers confident they would get support they need in the next 12 months
  • Nearly seven in 10 (66%) worried services will be reduced and over half (51%) worried about losing access to voluntary sector services because of funding cuts
  • Nearly one in five (17%) unpaid carers who work would reduce working hours or would be at risk of giving up work altogether if they cannot access affordable and accessible care

Unpaid carers are being pushed to breaking point with many struggling to cope with the extra pressure COVID-19 is putting on social care services, warns Carers Scotland. The charity is calling on the UK Government ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review to urgently invest in social care over the next three years to help unpaid carers across Scotland.

New research from Carers Scotland’s and Carers UK’s State of Caring report, which will be released in full next month, reveals many of the services that unpaid carers depend on to help their loved ones have reduced or closed. Seven in 10 (70%) who use crucial day services have reduced or no access and only 16% of carers are confident that they would get the support they need in the next 12 months.

Nearly seven in 10 (66%) said they are worried services will be reduced and over half (51%) said they are worried about losing access to voluntary sector services because of funding constraints.

Nearly one in five (17%) unpaid carers who work said they would be forced to reduce their working hours or would be at risk of giving up work altogether if they do not get affordable and accessible care to support them working where needed.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, said:

“Unpaid carers have been under enormous pressure for years but we are at a crossroads where without adequate funding for social care now, carers will be pushed over the edge. As any additional social care funding through the Health and Social Care levy will not start this winter, carers could be facing a difficult future.

“They will not be able to cope if we go on like this and the social care system they prop up would collapse without the care they provide. The Comprehensive Spending Review must recognise this and invest in our unpaid carers, or we risk sleepwalking into a new social care crisis. The Chancellor has the power to change carers’ lives significantly for the better if he funds social care properly now which will bring consequential funding to the Scottish Government to invest in care in Scotland.”

Carers UK estimates the number of unpaid carers increased by 4.5 million at the height of the pandemic to 13.6 million. Unpaid carers also saved the UK economy £193 billion a year during the pandemic.

In Scotland the number of people providing care increased 1.1 million people providing care, with a value of £10.9 billion - £43 million each and every day of the pandemic.

Even before the pandemic carers were severely impacted by a lack of the care services that they and the person they care for needed.  Our research[1] in 2019 found that as many as 1 in 5 carers received no support at all to help them manage their caring role and over two thirds of carers regularly had to use their own income or savings to pay for care or support services, equipment or products for the person they care for.

With COVID19 restrictions and the current staffing crisis, the availability of the support they need has shrunk even further, leaving many unpaid carers on their knees with exhaustion.

Carers Scotland is calling for social care funding to prioritised in the Comprehensive Spending Review (with consequential for Scotland) to:

  • Increase funding for social care and in services that support carers to ensure that services can manage over winter.
  • Increase funding over the next three years until funding comes through from the Health and Care Levy.
  • Increase investment for carers’ breaks alongside urgent investment over the next three years to support social care. This will be essential not only for people juggling work and care to stay in employment but also to address the physical, emotional and financial impact of caring.

 

- ENDS -

 

[1]State of Caring in Scotland 2018

 

Notes to Editors:

Media contact

Please contact the Carers Scotland for more information or interviews on:

  •  Fiona Collie, Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Carers Scotland 0141 445 3070/07967826238 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Case Studies available on request

 

About Carers Scotland’s and Carers UK’s State of Caring 2021 survey – early results release

Carers Scotland and Carers UK carried out its annual online survey between August and September 2021. A total of 8,676 carers and former carers responded to the survey – we have only included responses from the 8,119 people who are currently providing care in this report. Compared to the carer population as a whole, respondents to this survey are more likely to be White British, female and caring for a high number of hours every week. As not all respondents completed every question in the survey, a number of figures given may be drawn from a sample size of fewer than 8,119 carers. Of respondents to the survey, 8% live in Scotland.

Carers Scotland is publishing a selected sample of results early to share carers’ experiences on social care ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review. A full report will be published later in the year.

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