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The Government has confirmed plans for new legislation that will give employees the right to ask for flexible working from their first day at a new job, as it formally responds to its consultation on flexible working.

Having campaigned for this right for carers, Carers UK warmly welcomes this plan, which would make a difference to millions of unpaid carers juggling their work with looking after an older, disabled or seriously ill relative or friend.

  • Millions of people beginning or ending a caring role each year
  • Carers UK calls for step change in the way that unpaid carers are identified and supported

Academic research released for Carers Rights Day (24th November 2022) shows the astonishing numbers of people in the UK starting or ending an unpaid caring role each year.

Published by the charity Carers UK, statistical analysis by the Centre for Care, University of Sheffield of data from 2010 to 2020 shows that on average,12,000 people in the UK become an unpaid carer every single day – roughly 84,000 each week.

In a year, more than 4.3 million people in the UK become unpaid carers. Similarly, 4 million people stop their unpaid caring roles every year.

Of those 4.3 million starting caring roles for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives, more than 1.9 million people are in paid employment.  2.3 million new carers are women and 2 million are men.

The analysis underlines the growing need for unpaid carers as a group to be identified and supported within society - by the NHS, social care, employers and businesses as well as in the broader community. 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, today unveiled the Government’s Autumn Budget.

Carers UK welcomes the Government’s announcement that benefit payments will be uprated in line with inflation next year, meaning Carer’s Allowance and other benefits will rise by 10.1% from April 2023. This is something we and others have been calling for the Government to commit to for a number of months and will be a relief to thousands of carers. We also welcome the announcement of further cost of living payments to support families on means tested benefits, the extension of the Household Support Fund, and the additional support that will be provided to pensioners, as these will help significant numbers of people with caring responsibilities manage the current cost of living crisis.

However, the lack of targeted financial support for carers who are solely in receipt of Carer’s Allowance ahead of this winter is deeply disappointing. We had urged Government to provide Carer’s Allowance recipients with a £500 one off payment to help them through the coming Winter, as well as rises to the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance, to ensure carers who are able to work part time could work for more hours. Our evidence shows that two in five of those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are already in debt because of their caring role. This must be urgently rectified by Government before next Spring when benefit upratings will take place – especially given the additional increases to the National Living Wage announced today.

Regarding social care whilst we’re looking at the detail, the additional funding announced by the Chancellor, looks like it  will help to deliver an increase in the number of social care packages which will help to ease the pressures that families are facing ahead of this Winter. We also welcome the additional money announced for the Better Care Fund to support hospital discharge as our State of Caring 2022 survey found unpaid carers short of services, and support which was having devastating impacts on their health and wellbeing. However, we remain concerned about the long term sustainable funding for social care. This still needs to be tackled since the funding falls short of what the social care system and families desperately need.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:

 “We’re relieved that benefits are being uprated with inflation but this doesn’t tackle the long lasting and systemic issues with the level of Carer’s Allowance which remains the lowest benefit of its kind, despite carers providing 35 hours of care. We need an urgent review of the benefit to ensure that carers don’t experience the kinds of poverty and financial hardship that we’ve seen even before the cost of living crisis.

“Whilst the extra funding for social care is welcome and will help with some of the pressure points in social care, it still falls short of what we really need to give carers the breaks and support they need – 40% of carers have not had a break in the last year. Long term sustainable funding of social care must remain an urgent priority for Government, to provide a decent life for people needing care, to prevent carers from having to give up work in order to care and to stop their health and wellbeing from deteriorating.”

The national charity Carers UK, together with 65 other organisations including Age UK and MS Society, is urging the Government to provide unpaid carers with targeted financial support in the upcoming Autumn Statement to ensure they are not left behind amidst the current cost-of-living crisis.

The joint letter calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt MP, to provide targeted financial help for carers who are struggling to make ends meet while caring for their disabled, ill, or older friends and family members

There are approximately 10.6 million people providing unpaid care in the UK. Those receiving Carer’s Allowance and providing over 35 hours of care each week are particularly vulnerable to financial difficulties due to their limited ability to earn an income. They cannot cut back on essential expenditure without potentially compromising the safety of the person they are caring for.

Recent research by Carers UK found that the proportion of carers unable to afford their utility bills has doubled and two in five carers (39%) in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are struggling to make ends meet.

To ensure that carers can get through the difficult unprecedented winter months, Carers UK is asking the Government for considered, targeted financial support for carers:

  1. Ensure that all benefits are uprated, including Carer’s Allowance and the Carer Element of Universal Credit, so that they are in line with current levels of inflation as soon as possible to help vulnerable groups survive the winter months.
  2. Provide top up payments for unpaid carers who have an entitlement to Carer’s Allowance to recognise the additional costs they are facing during the current cost of living crisis.
  3. Raise the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance to the value of 21 hours a week at the National Living Wage rate (i.e., £199.50), to enable carers to work more hours a week where they can, without losing their entitlement.
  4. Review all carers’ benefits, including Carer’s Allowance to ensure that they work well at supporting all types of unpaid carers and prevent them from falling into financial difficulties due to their caring role.

The Carer’s Leave Bill, which aims to support millions of unpaid carers in employment, was discussed in the House of Commons this morning, with a cross-party group of MPs sitting on the Committee looking at the Bill in detail.

It was a positive discussion with clear support from all sides of the house, including the Government.

If successful in its passage through both Houses of Parliament, the Carer’s Leave Bill would see employees across Great Britain get a landmark new right to take up to one week of unpaid Carer’s Leave.

This leave would allow millions of people with caring responsibilities more flexibility to better manage work alongside their caring responsibilities - for example, to help get their loved one to routine hospital appointments, or support them while they recover from an invasive operation. 

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“We are delighted that the Carer’s Leave Bill has passed Committee Stage and we’re grateful to all MPs who have examined the Bill.

“Caring is something that two in three of us in the UK will do in our lifetime, many of us while still in work, so it is essential that there is support in place to help carers balance their work and caring role.

“This Bill, if successful, would also enable employers to retain experienced staff who would otherwise have to leave because of their caring role, so it’s a win-win situation for both.

“We look forward to continuing our work with Wendy Chamberlain and the Government, and with MPs across all parties to ensure that this Bill becomes law.”

The Private Members Bill, brought forward by Wendy Chamberlain MP, will now proceed to Report Stage where MPs in the House will have another opportunity to consider the Bill. This will then be followed by a debate on the Bill’s Third Reading.

  • A third of carers have been waiting more than a year for NHS assessment or treatment, with two thirds seeing their health decline while waiting
  • One in five carers report their loved one’s emergency admission to hospital was avoidable
  • Compounded by cost-of-living crisis and lack of care in the community, Carers UK warns of perfect storm for carer breakdown

Unpaid carers and the older and disabled people they support are facing serious difficulties getting NHS treatment and their health is deteriorating as a result, new findings by charity Carers UK show.

A third of carers (34%) waiting for specialist treatment or an assessment have been waiting more than a year - with a similar proportion, 31%, saying the person they care for has also been waiting for more than a year.

It is affecting a third (32%) of carers’ attendance at work, rising to 45% of carers who have been waiting for more than 18 weeks.

Two thirds of carers (67%) waiting for treatment say it is having a negative impact on their mental or physical health - with many left in pain and unable to carry out their caring role.

A lack of reliable support from care services in the community is seeing one in five carers (22%) tell Carers UK that their loved one’s emergency admission into hospital could have been prevented with higher quality care and support in place.

Half of carers (49%) felt that NHS staff did not provide them with the information, advice and support they needed to care well and safely, putting their own health and wellbeing at risk.

The findings paint a bleak picture of increasing pressure on unpaid carers as they manage worsening health, compounded by the fundamental shortage of care services meaning they cannot take a break or stay in work to generate an income.

Carers UK responds to Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill passing Second Reading

On Friday 28th October the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, passed its Second Reading, with Government support.

The Bill would make it easier for carers to request flexible working, by increasing the number of times they can request flexible working within a year-long period and requiring employers to consult with employees before rejecting any such request.

Flexible working is crucial to enable carers to juggle work and care. Carers UK research shows that pre-pandemic 600 carers a day were leaving the workforce due to their caring responsibilities. Carers UK’s Supporting carers at work: opportunity and imperative report also revealed that nearly three-quarters (72%) of working carers say that they worry about continuing to juggle work with their caring role, while one quarter (24%) of carers in employment said their employer was not understanding of caring.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“We’re delighted that this bill has passed second reading and has Government support, because we know just how much carers value flexibility from their employer. Flexible working can prevent carers from making difficult decisions to leave the workforce, which can have a catastrophic impact on their household finances and career prospects.

“Enabling flexible working is a win for both carers in employment and employers. It helps carers manage their caring role – for example, taking loved ones to hospital appointments or day services – while assisting employers with retaining experienced staff.

“We will be following this bill closely and urge MPs and Peers to support it as it continues to progress through Parliament.”

The Private Member’s Bill, brought forward by Yasmin Qureshi MP, will proceed to Committee Stage and a small group of MPs will scrutinise the wording of the Bill closely.

Carers UK urges new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ensure unpaid carers get the financial support they desperately need

Rishi Sunak has today (25 October 2022) been declared leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. Earlier in the year, as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak pledged to uprate benefits in line with inflation and Carers UK is urging him to keep to his pledge so that hard-pressed unpaid carers can better manage during the cost-of-living crisis.  

Carers UK research released last week revealed that one in six (16%) carers are now in debt trying to make ends meet, rising to two in five (40%) of those receiving Carer’s Allowance – the main benefit for those caring 35 hours or more each week. A quarter of unpaid carers (25%) are having to cut back on food and heating to the detriment of their health.

The Carer’s Leave Bill has today passed its Second Reading, securing vital Government support.

This legislation, if successful in its passage through both Houses of Parliament, would see employees across Great Britain get a landmark new right to take up to one week of unpaid Carer’s Leave.

Passing Second Reading is a significant hurdle that has been overcome.

 Wendy Chamberlain MP, sponsor of the Carer’s Leave Bill said:

“This is a landmark day for carers around the UK, marking the first step to secure employment rights designed to help people care and work.

I am delighted to be bringing this bill, and to have gained the support of Parliament today. Unpaid carers are the backbone of society and we must do all we can to support them. This is a vital part of that.

It also benefits businesses: increasing retention rates, productivity, and loyalty. Passing this Bill will be a win-win.”

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“We’re thrilled that the Carer’s Leave Bill has passed Second Reading – it is a monumental step forward for unpaid carers juggling their work with care for a relative  who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

“Carers UK has campaigned for decades to get carers a right to Carer’s Leave – because the evidence shows it makes a huge difference to working carers’ lives. 

“It allows them flexibility to better manage work alongside their caring responsibilities - for example, to help get their loved one to routine hospital appointments, or support them while they recover from an invasive operation.

“Carer’s Leave also makes business sense: employers are better able to retain talent and skills within their staff teams and avoid additional recruitment costs and retention rates. The wider economic benefits could be significant.

“We look forward to continuing our work with Wendy Chamberlain and the Government, and with MPs across all parties to ensure that this Bill becomes law.”

The Private Members Bill, brought forward by Wendy Chamberlain MP, will proceed to Committee Stage and a small group of MPs will scrutinise the wording of the Bill closely.

Commenting on the Care Quality Commission’s 2022 State of Care report, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said;

“The Care Quality Commission’s State of Care report lays bare the extremely challenging situation facing our health and care services. But families up and down the country, caring for their disabled, ill and older relatives, are bearing the brunt of this crisis and providing ever increasing amounts of unpaid care. The proportion of people providing substantial unpaid care has risen by 42% since the height of the pandemic, with carers’ health, wellbeing and paid work suffering.

”Unpaid carers are being forced out of work every day because they have no choice about providing care when statutory services fall short. A staggering 4.68 million unpaid carers are concerned about their own physical and mental health. This situation is simply not sustainable and puts more pressure on unpaid carers when they can least afford it. At a time when carers are struggling more than ever with the cost of living crisis, the new Prime Minister must have this marked essential, with support for social care and carers, as well at the cost of living at the top of the list.”

 

 

  • Carers UK urges new Prime Minister not to push people providing round-the-clock care further into poverty
  • Cutting back on food and heating is putting the health of carers and the older and disabled people they support at risk

Family members caring round the clock for loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill are being plunged into debt and struggling to afford food and bills during the cost-of-living crisis, new research by Carers UK reveals.

A survey by the charity of more than 12,400 current unpaid carers found that one in six (16%) are now in debt as they try to manage their monthly costs.

Those who have been caring for more than five years are struggling most, with one in five (19%) in debt compared to 9% of people caring for less than five years.

Those receiving Carer’s Allowance - just £69.70 a week for people providing 35 hours or more of unpaid care each week - are worst affected. Two in five (40%) of carers receiving Carer’s Allowance are in debt as they try to manage their costs. More than a third (35%) are cutting back on food and heating, with four in ten (39%) saying they are struggling to make ends meet.

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has today made an emergency financial statement, reversing almost all tax cuts announced by previous Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

He announced that the cap which would limit the average household energy bill to £2,500 will stop from April, with a Treasury-led review into further support due next year. He confirmed that the Health and Social Care levy is still being reversed.

Responding to today’s announcement that Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP will be the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK said:

“With Jeremy Hunt’s knowledge of the health and care system, he knows he must address two key issues for unpaid carers who are facing the double whammy of an unprecedented rise in the cost of living and a care crisis, ahead of this winter.

“As Chancellor, he must guarantee an uplift of all social security benefits, including Carer’s Allowance and carers’ means-tested benefits in line with inflation, and an additional top up payment to get them through this winter.  He must also address the care crisis, providing emergency funding for carers’ breaks and funding to support social care to ensure the vital services that families need. 

“There is not a moment to lose, and these guarantees cannot come soon enough. The anxiety and pressure that families caring for their disabled, older, and ill relatives is unprecedented.  They are at breaking point and the current situation is simply unacceptable. Every day we’re dealing with queries from carers who are cutting back on food and essentials, being pushed further into poverty, having to turn to foodbanks or get further into debt. They are terrified about how they are going to manage this winter. All this, and yet health and social care would collapse without their support. The balance needs to be tipped further in carers’ favour to provide the support they desperately need.

“Less than a month ago, Carers UK led a plea to the former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, with 70 other organisations, calling for immediate financial support to be provided by Government to unpaid carers amid an unprecedented cost of living crisis. It’s time to put these calls into action." 

According to Carers UK’s research, a staggering 72% of carers have not had a break since the start the pandemic yet are providing more care than every before. In March 2022, our research Under Pressure found that 45% of carers were unable to afford their monthly expenses and things have got worse since then.

 

Charity Skills for Care has released new findings showing there are 165,000 vacant posts in adult social care - an increase of 52% and the highest rate on record. Further findings show:

  • The number of filled posts (posts with a person working in them) has dropped by 50,000 – the first drop in the number of social care workers ever.
  • Average vacancy rates across the sector are at nearly 11% which is twice the national average.
  • Care workers with five years’ experience are paid 7p per hour more than a care worker with less than one year’s experience.
  • The average care worker pay is £1 per hour less than healthcare assistants in the NHS that are new to their roles.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“The enormous shortage of care workers in England has become a perpetual issue for the country - one that is piling more pressure on already stretched families who are having to plug the gap.

“In many cases family members are having to step in to provide round the clock care for older and disabled relatives, with 600 people a day in the UK leaving the workforce to do so. It is having a huge impact on their physical and mental health, with 72% of unpaid carers unable to take a break from their caring role since the start of the COVID pandemic.

“Care workers play an essential role in society supporting people to enjoy a better quality of life - a role that is valued by families and should be valued by the Government. It cannot let the care worker shortage get further out of hand. Adult social care needs a proper long-term workforce plan and significant investment in the system to ensure older and disabled people and their families can enjoy better health and better lives

A new date for the Second Reading for the Carer’s Leave Bill has been agreed in Parliament, with Friday 21 October 2022 being the new date. The Bill was due to have its Second Reading on 9 September, but this was part of the mourning period following the passing of HM The Queen.

Emily Holzhausen OBE, Carers UK Director of Policy and Public Affairs said,

“We’re delighted that the Government and Parliament have found the time to give Wendy Chamberlain MP’s vital Bill a Second Reading.  We very much hope that Government will give its support since it has such wide-ranging support from MPs as well as business, employers, unions, local authorities, charities, carers organisations as well as many carers.

“Carer’s Leave is essential to helping millions of workers juggle work and caring responsibilities, as well as helping employers with recruitment and retention. It would provide vital support for carers to manage medical appointments, and other caring needs, and reduce the risk of them having to leave the workforce due to caring commitments.

“We will be encouraging MPs to attend the Second Reading debate on 21 October 2022 and to discuss the Bill in detail and the real benefits that this Bill, if successful, could bring to carers and to business. “

 

  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual carers were more likely to feel lonely and worried about their finances than their heterosexual peers
  • This group was five times as likely to say they had received reduced support from local charities than heterosexual carers

Unpaid carers who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual were more likely to be lonely and worried about their finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, new analysis by Carers UK suggests.

Survey data through the first 18 months of the UK’s first lockdown reveals the latest evidence that existing social and economic inequalities have been amplified and entrenched amongst some groups.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual carers were more likely to feel lonely during the pandemic than heterosexual carers. In 2021, 48% of bisexual carers reported that they often or always felt lonely, compared with 45% of lesbian and gay carers, and 33% of heterosexual carers.

This cohort of carers were also more concerned about their financial situations. 65% of bisexual carers and 62% of lesbian and gay carers said they felt anxious or stressed when thinking about their financial situation, compared to 50% of heterosexual carers.

The analysis reveals the closure of local care and support services disproportionately impacted lesbian, gay and bisexual carers. During the pandemic, this group was significantly more likely to say they were receiving reduced support from local charities than heterosexual carers, with 1 in 10 (11%) saying they had a lower level of support than before the pandemic, compared to 2% of heterosexual carers. In addition, more than 1 in 5 (22%) of lesbian and gay carers were providing more care as they were concerned about the safety or quality of local services compared to just 10% of heterosexual carers and 2% of bisexual carers.

Carers UK’s data found key distinctions in caring experiences between lesbian, gay and bisexual carers. Lesbian and gay carers were more likely to be caring for a parent, and bisexual carers were more likely to be caring for a child. In addition, lesbian, gay and bisexual carers were more likely to be caring for a neighbour or friend than heterosexual carers.

The new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, today set out financial measures for the coming months in the Government’s Plan for Growth

Carers UK is very concerned that the statement did not include any targeted financial support that unpaid carers need, to help them with the cost of living crisis they are facing right now.

Responding, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK said:

The measures that we have been calling for to support unpaid carers more with the current cost of living crisis are completely missing, leaving millions of carers facing unprecedented financial hardship this autumn and over winter across the UK. Many carers are telling us they are unable to pay essential bills, they are cutting back on food and heating and remain desperately worried about this winter, which will undoubtedly mean bigger costs for Government and society further down the line.  

Unpaid carers provide vital support for the NHS and social care systems, often at great physical and mental cost to themselves. Many carers feel that it is deeply unjust that their already stretched disposable incomes are shrinking because of the rising cost of living, at time when they are doing more and more for those they care for. Many face significantly higher costs that they cannot cut back on any further.

“We have asked Government to recognise how difficult the winter will be for unpaid carers. Carer’s Allowance and carers’ means-tested benefits need to be immediately raised in line with inflation this Autumn, and people with an entitlement to carer benefits should receive a top up payment to support them over the coming months.

The Chancellor’s announcement that the funding announced for health and social care by his predecessor last year will be maintained is welcome, and we had previously been encouraged by the Prime Minister’s intention to inject £13 billion into the social care system. Given the pressure that the families and the care system are under, we urgently need to see what Government’s proposals are to ensure carers get the support, services and breaks that they need.”

 

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP, today set out the Government’s Plan for Patients, with the aim of ensuring people have easier access to NHS and social care, this winter and next. This includes a package of measures which the Government hope will improve access to general practice so all patients who need an appointment can get one within two weeks, with plans to free up over one million appointments per year. Alongside the Government’s plan, the public will be called on to do their bit as part of a “national endeavour” to support the NHS and social care.

Responding, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK said:

  • 72 organisations call for targeted top up for unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance
  • 84% of public agree that the Government should provide unpaid carers with additional support

The national charity Carers UK has delivered a letter to the new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, urging him to tackle the cost-of-living crisis’ tightening grip on unpaid carers.

The letter is signed by 72 organisations, including Age UK, Mencap and MS Society, and sets out the extreme financial challenges faced by family members providing round the clock care for relatives who are older, disabled or seriously ill.

Unpaid carers are particularly vulnerable to many types of rising cost because their ability to earn an income is limited. There are some costs carers cannot cut back on, such as heating and medical equipment, without affecting the safety of the person they care for.

Liz Truss has today (5th September 2022) been declared the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

Wendy Chamberlain MP led a special event last Friday where prominent employers including Centrica, TSB and Phoenix Group met to discuss the benefits of her proposed Private Members Bill to businesses and employees.

If successfully passed through Parliament the Carer’s Leave Bill, which was published on the same day as the event, would introduce a landmark new right for UK employees with caring responsibilities of up to one week of unpaid Carer's Leave each year.

Ahead of the Second Reading on 9th September, employers and experts came together to discuss the significance of the Bill and share their experiences of how unpaid Carer’s Leave allows them to better support and retain their staff, as well as cost-savings and other benefits it has brought them.

Employers at the event included Centrica, TSB, BT, Nationwide, Listawood, Longhurst Group, international law firm CMS, Agenor and Phoenix Group.

A new Private Members' Bill which could see millions of unpaid carers – those looking after older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends – better supported in the workplace, has gained wide-ranging support from politicians, employers and carers' organisations.

The Carer's Leave Bill, brought forward by Wendy Chamberlain MP, would introduce a landmark new right for UK employees with caring responsibilities of up to one week of unpaid Carer's Leave each year.

A number of MPs on a cross-party basis have come out to say that they will be backing the Bill, including Dame Caroline Dinenage MP (Conservative, Gosport), Sally-Ann Hart MP (Conservative, Hastings and Rye), Steve McCabe MP (Labour, Birmingham Selly Oak), Stuart C McDonald MP (SNP, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East), Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion), Sir Ed Davey MP (Lib Dem, Kingston and Surbiton), Marion Fellows MP (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw), and Liz Saville-Roberts MP (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd).

In total, 21 Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have already pledged their support for the Bill. In addition, 100 organisations are publicly supporting the intention of the Bill, including major employers, employer representative groups, trade unions and national and local carers' organisations – demonstrating its wide-ranging appeal.

The second reading of the Bill will take place on Friday 9th September 2022

Carers UK warns of tightening financial squeeze facing unpaid carers ahead of expected increase to energy price cap

On Friday 26th August 2022 Ofgem, the government regulator for the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, is expected to announce another increase to the energy price cap.

The cap was raised earlier in the year, in April, by 54%, an increase of £693 per year for 22 million households. This Friday, Ofgem is expected to announce another increase to take effect from 1st October.

Unpaid carers are particularly vulnerable to all types of rising costs due to their limited ability to earn an income and due to costs that they cannot cut back on, without affecting the safety of the person they care for. Unpaid carers looking after older, disabled and seriously ill relatives are therefore extremely anxious about what it will mean for them. Carers UK’s Under Pressure: Caring and the cost of living crisis report, published in March 2022, found that:

  • 45% of carers said they were unable to afford their monthly expenses.
  • The number of carers worried about how they will manage their bills more than doubled from 21% to 55%.
  • 45% of carers were relying on their savings, 26% were using credit cards, and 14% were using bank overdrafts.
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 (58%) were cutting back on heating to manage their finances and 14% have already fallen into arrears with their utility bills.
  • 83% of carers were worried or extremely worried about how they will manage their monthly expenses if costs keep increasing.

For many carers, the impact of rising prices has got much worse since March.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“We know that thousands of unpaid carers on lower incomes – especially those providing round the clock care – were already worried sick about the expected increases to energy costs back in March, and how they would manage. Things have got much more difficult since then.

“As it is, nearly half of carers are already unable to manage their monthly expenses - cutting back on essentials, using savings or taking out credit cards to keep the person their care for warm and healthy.

“Some have no way of meeting the rising costs and face extremely difficult decisions that are keeping them up at night.

“The Government must take urgent action for carers specifically, ensuring those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are included in the extension of the Warm Home Discount scheme, and receive targeted financial support with energy bills. Those unpaid carers providing 35 hours or more of care each week also need the Government to address the rate of Carer’s Allowance, just £69.70 a week, which sees their limited support falling behind inflation.

“Without targeted support, too many carers and the people they care for will be pushed further into poverty, impacting their quality of life and that of the people they care for.”

Responding to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Select Committee report published today, 04.08.22, which states that adult social care needs an immediate funding injection to meet current pressures, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:

“We strongly welcome this important report and its recognition of the vital role played by unpaid carers in supporting the current social care system.

“It lays bare the urgency of the need for action to address immediate and long-term pressures on adult social care.

“Unpaid carers are now providing more care than at the height of the pandemic and many thousands have not had a break in over two years as they prop up a crumbling system. As the report states, this is taking a high toll on their health, wellbeing, and finances. Many are having to leave their jobs to care, and the situation is simply unsustainable. We want to see an immediate investment of £1.5 billion from Government to ensure that all unpaid carers have access to the breaks they desperately need, as well as support to stay in work.

“We also support the call for Government to review carers’ assessments to ensure all carers get the help they need. At present, only 1 in 4 receive assessments, and even those who do say that they often do not meet their needs.

“The next Prime Minister must make social care a priority from day one. We want the Government to implement a ‘Respite and Recovery’ plan for carers, including breaks, desperately needed respite and care services, the identification of carers, financial help to deal with the unprecedented cost of living crisis, and support to juggle work and care, helping to make families feel valued and supported.”

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