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Unpaid carers save Scottish Government £43 million every day of the pandemic

by Fiona Collie 25 November 2020
  • Care provided by families in Scotland valued at £10.9 billion over course of the pandemic so far
  • Carers Scotland calls on the Scottish Government to recognise contribution of Scotland’s 1 million carers and protect their health and wellbeing

With every day of the COVID-19 pandemic that passes, unpaid carers are saving the Scottish Government £43 million in the care they provide, new research by charity Carers Scotland shows.

The research, released for Carers Rights Day, estimates that the care provided by people looking after older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends during the pandemic stands at £10.9 billion so far, after just eight months.

Previous research by the charity found that the majority (87%) of carers in Scotland have been taking on more care since the start of the pandemic and 77% said they are exhausted and worn out as a result.

Carers Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to provide additional support for carers in Scotland over winter and ensure that services that support them in their caring role are reinstated as soon as possible – or provide alternatives. The charity also continues to call for additional financial support to be provided directly to carers to recognise the significant financial pressures that the pandemic has placed upon them.

With many crucial face-to-face support services such as day centres and support groups significantly reduced – or in many cases closed – because of costly infection and control measures, Carers Scotland is warning that people caring round the clock are going to break down after months of caring without a break.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, warned:

“Many carers in Scotland are at breaking point and it is vital that the Scottish Government and local partnerships ensure that services they need to sustain caring and their health and wellbeing – are reinstated as soon as possible. 

We recognise the specific challenges of the pandemic but are clear that, where it is not possible to reinstate traditional services, alternatives should always be offered to ensure that carers do not continue to feel they have been left to struggle on alone.

“The Scottish Government must acknowledge the enormous contribution made by carers during this pandemic – the value of which is a staggering £43 million every single day - and prioritise their health, wellbeing and resilience this winter.”

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government provided an additional and welcome coronavirus payment through Carers Allowance Supplement but carers continue to struggle.  The charity is calling for the Scottish Government to build on this to provide additional financial support directly to carers to help them manage the higher costs of caring in winter.

- ENDS –

Carers Rights Day 2020: Know Your Rights

Each year Carers Scotland with Carers UK holds Carers Rights Day to bring organisations across the UK together to help carers in their local community know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to. 

Every day 6,000 people in the United Kingdom become carers, something few have been able to plan for. This Carers Rights Day we’re joining together with organisations across the Scotland and the UK to help carers in their local communities find the support they need.

Taking place on 26th November, Carers Rights Day 2020 is kindly supported by Barclays LifeSkills. Barclays LifeSkills has supported Carers UK to develop a practical guide and video resources to help carers understand the different forms or flexible working, offer practical tips on how to ask your employer to change your working arrangements, and to help carers recognise their caring role and get the support they need.


About the research

The estimated value of unpaid care in this briefing is based on representative polling completed with YouGov in October and November 2020. 5,741 people across the UK were polled. The survey was carried out online. The polling asked:

Do you currently give unpaid support to someone who is older, seriously ill, or has a disability?

Those currently providing unpaid care were asked

Approximately, how many hours per week on average do you provide unpaid support? (Please select the option that best applies)

  • 0-9 hours a week
  • 10-19 hours a week
  • 20-49 hours a week
  • More than 50 hours a week

Using the answers to these questions and ONS 2019 mid-year population estimates[1] for over 18s. The number of hours of unpaid care provided on a weekly basis across the UK was calculated by using the mid-point of each category (ie 5 hours for 0-9 hours) except for the last category which was capped at 50 hours. This was then multiplied by an hourly rate of replacement care (£23), from the Personal Social Services Research Unit at The University of Kent (released in February 2020)[2]. In many cases the care provided by family and friends would be far more costly if it were to be provided by health and social care professionals due to the complexity of care needs.


[1] Office for National Statistics (2020) Population Estimates -

[2] Personal Social Services Research Unit at The University of Kent (2020) ‘Unit costs of health and social care 2019’


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