Home Finance Millions of unpaid carers feel unsupported despite saving economy estimated £162billion

Millions of unpaid carers feel unsupported despite saving economy estimated £162billion


Millions of the UK’s unpaid carers looking after disabled, older or ill relatives are faced with no choice about taking on an unpaid caring role due to a lack of alternative care options, new data shows.

Responding to a YouGov Omnibus poll of nearly 6,500 members of the public, 62 percent of current and former unpaid carers said they had no choice to take on the responsibility – the equivalent of 10 million adult unpaid carers.

The report also found that women were more likely than men to say unpaid caring had a ‘very’ negative impact on mental health (27 percent compared with 19 percent) and on their job and ability to work (22 percent compared with 16 percent).

Meanwhile, those aged 45 to 54 were most likely to say that unpaid caring has had a ‘very’ or ‘slightly’ negative impact on their finances and savings (56 percent), job and ability to work (64 percent) and pensions (30 percent), compared to other age groups.

And despite their huge contribution, many unpaid carers say they do not feel supported in their role amidst a widespread lack of support from health and social care services.

It is estimated that unpaid carers save the economy a staggering £162billion a year, yet, many unpaid carers feel their role is forgotten and invisible.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) currently offers a Carer’s Allowance benefit worth up to £81.90 a week. However, there are strict eligibility criteria and if someone earns a penny over £151 a week from work, they lose the entitlement.

An additional YouGov Political Omnibus poll of over 4,200 members of the public showed widespread backing for more support to be given to unpaid carers. As much as 73 percent said more support should be issued from the next Government.

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK said: “These findings demonstrate how caring can have a profound effect on every aspect of life and wellbeing, from mental and physical health, being able to work, or affecting their future income including pensions.

“That’s why we need to see a future Government deliver action across Government, in the form of a National Carers Strategy. With an ageing population, this is becoming ever more important.”

Dorothy Cook is an unpaid carer from Bristol. She stopped working over a decade ago to care for her husband Melvin, who has a rare brain disease.

Mrs Cook said: “If I had been asked 15 years ago where I saw my life in 2024, I would never have dreamed it would be as a full-time carer. I had started my own business and it was thriving.

“I worked long hours and it wasn’t always easy. But I will honestly say that being a full-time unpaid carer has been the toughest and most challenging role of all.”

Mrs Cook said she was forced into giving up her dream life, job, friends, relationships and her physical and mental health suffered.

She added: “I am financially poorer. I do it because of my love for someone who has found themselves dependent on me.

“I also have little choice about caring because the system is unable to provide the care my husband needs. It leaves me without enough breaks and the essential support I also need for my own health. I’m often caring 24 hours a day, seven days a week which is exhausting.”

The poll also suggested that the situation may be getting worse, with those currently providing unpaid care more likely than former unpaid carers to say they had no choice in taking on a caring role (66 percent compared to 59 percent), due to a lack of available care options.

Ms Walker added: “Carers Week is an important annual opportunity to ‘put carers on the map’. We want unpaid carers to know they are not forgotten, and they are not alone. Many are at breaking point, facing huge challenges with their caring responsibilities.

“On top of this they are struggling to manage their own health and wellbeing. Carers are worried about their long-term health, security and ability to care in the future.”

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