unpaid carers facing financial struggles

Unpaid carers are “bankrupting their future to pay for the present” claims new research by Carers UK, with the charity calling on the Tory leadership candidates to put UK’s families first and commit to funding adult social care.

Surveying over 7,500 unpaid carers currently caring for someone, with the majority providing over 50 hours each week, the State of Caring Report 2019 highlights the huge personal and financial cost incurred by unpaid carers looking after family and friends.

With recent polling published by Carers UK suggesting there could now be as many as 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, the report shines a light on the financial cost of caring, with 39 percent of this year’s respondents stating that they are struggling to make ends meet.

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According to the study, over two-thirds of respondents confirm having to regularly use their own income or savings to pay for care or support services, equipment or products for the person they care for, with that figure jumping to 78 percent for those identified as already on the breadline.

As a result, the financial pressure on carers is having a knock-on effect on their futures says Carers UK, with more than half of all carers unable to save for retirement, whilst those struggling financially are the hardest hit, using what little money they have spare to pay hundreds of pounds to cover the costs of essential equipment.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “This is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, with carers already providing high levels of support left short-changed as they use money for their retirement trying to cover the care costs of their loved one today.

“As it stands, providing unpaid care is pushing thousands of families into poverty and is having a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life.”

Aids to daily living and equipment for the home including hoists, grab rails and easy-grip handles for taps are identified as being the most common piece of equipment carers receive or buy, with almost half (48 percent) of all carers obtaining such equipment.

Additionally, 26 percent of carers confirm buying or receiving alarms, sensors and remote monitoring equipment, whilst 21 percent receive or pay for a Motability vehicle.

In addition, Carers UK highlights unpaid carers are at a higher risk of experiencing loneliness and social isolation, alongside struggling to juggle their paid jobs, leading to a reduction in hours, refusal of promotions or exiting work altogether.

For those on a low income or receiving Carer’s Allowance – the benefit for those caring for more than 35 hours a week at just £66.15 per week – the charity says is a never-ending struggle to make ends meet.

“Our current social care system is on the brink,” continued Helen.

“Families urgently need affordable, high quality care services and carers need access to regular breaks and stronger workplace rights to ensure they can combine work and care if they wish to.”

In response to the troubling findings in the report, Carers UK is urging the government to urgently put in place the financial and practical support that carers need, both in the short-term and over the longer term, to ensure the sustainability of the health and social care system.

“The leadership candidates cannot afford to ignore this burning issue affecting millions across the country and must commit to funding and delivering a reformed system that has families at its heart,” she finished.

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