1 in 4 carers concerned about coping over winter, says report

Over one in five unpaid carers (21%) are worried they may not cope financially over the next 12 months, reveals new research from the charity Carers UK. This is on top of concern about practical support where just 13% of carers are confident they will get the practical support they need in the next 12 months.

A survey of over 8,000 people currently caring unpaid for family or friends, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care every week, revealed that nearly one in four carers (23%) do not have enough money to cover their monthly expenses. Many carers are worrying about how they will cope this winter face rising energy prices and increases in the cost of living.

As well as providing significant levels of care themselves, almost two thirds (63%) of carers are also using their own income or savings to cover the cost of care, equipment or products for the person they care for. On average carers spend an estimated £1,370 a year on services or equipment for the person they care for.

The situation has got worse during the pandemic with over one in three carers (36%) saying that their financial situation has worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and a quarter (25%) are spending more on equipment or products for the person they care for.

As a result many are struggling financially and unable to save for their own retirement. Almost two-thirds of carers (65%) say they are worried about their ability to save and plan for the future.

The financial strain is also damaging carers’ mental health with over half (52%) reporting they feel anxious or stressed about their finances, and over one in three carers (35%) providing more than 35 hours of care a week said they have been or are in debt.

Carers are still having to take on more hours of care for the person they care for, with 55% of carers having reduced or no access to day services and a third of carers reporting reduced or no access to paid care workers.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “As it stands, providing unpaid care is pushing thousands of families into poverty and will have a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life. Carer’s Allowance the lowest benefit of its kind must be reviewed. The Earning Threshold of Carer’s Allowance must be increased to ensure that carers are able to choose to work and are protected from financial hardship.”

Responding to the report, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said: “With the cost of living spiralling this winter these damning figures show the struggle that many unpaid carers face.

“After all the sacrifices carers have made to look after their loved ones during the pandemic, they deserve far more support. Instead, the Government is ignoring them and taking them for granted once again.

“The Conservatives’ unfair tax hikes will hit carers on lower wages especially hard at a time they can least afford it.

“The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to stand up for carers by raising Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year as well as providing weekly breaks.”