New study highlights the cost of caring

A report out this week suggests that unpaid carers face ‘a severe financial penalty’ as soon as they start looking after a disabled or chronically ill relative or friend.

The charity Carers UK surveyed 3,000 carers for its ‘Real Change, Not Short Change’ report, a study of the long-term financial implications of caring.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they were worse off since they began caring and more than half said money worries were making them ill.

Carers UK said the findings indicate that the current benefit system is not working in the interests of carers and called for a full review into the incomes and services of those providing unpaid support.

The report’s findings indicate that of those questioned:

• 72% are worse off since they started caring
• 65% are not in paid work
• 54% give up work to care
• 53% say that financial worries are affecting their health
• 33% are in debt
• 30% are cutting back on food or heating
• 10% cannot afford to pay their rent or mortgage

Roz Williamson, Director of Carers Wales, said: “Carers feel short-changed – the benefits system is clearly failing to allow carers an acceptable standard of living.

“There is a failure to recognise the contribution carers make to the national economy, which is estimated to be worth £57 billion every year to the state.

“Carers are often forced out of work because the social care system does not give them the support they need to balance work and caring.

“They are then consigned to a life on the margins because the benefits system is so outdated.

“Demographic trends point to the need for an additional three million carers over the next 30 years.

“It means that some 10 million people will experience the harsh realities that come from being a carer – and the detrimental effects that can remain with them for the rest of their lives.

“The National Carers Strategy review, announced by Government, is a golden opportunity to review the system for carers and get it right.

“It’s time for a social contract between Government and carers.

“Carers UK is urging carers to sign up to their new campaign, ‘Real Change, Not Short Change’, to secure a better deal.”

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