New Report Reveals that Unpaid Carers are ‘Propping Up’ the Carer System – with Women Baring the Brunt of the Responsibility

A recent report from the Social Market Foundation has revealed that the proportion of unpaid family carers providing care for 20 or more hours a week has risen from 24% to 28% between 2005 and 2015.

This increase means there are now over seven and a half million people in the UK who are providing unpaid care for a relative.

To put that into perspective, unpaid family carers are doing the equivalent of the work done by 4 million full-time paid caregivers in the UK.

Commenting on the report, Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said:

‘This valuable new report confirms how incredibly reliant we are on the contributions of families and friends when it comes to the care of older people.

Certainly, they deserve our grateful thanks, but that’s not enough: the report shows many informal carers are losing out in terms of their work, finances and health.

This is not only unfair but it is also unsustainable, and there is an urgent need for new Government measures to give them more practical support, help them balance working and caring, and mitigate their financial losses.’

‘With reducing Government funding and rising needs with an aging population, it is no wonder that caring provided by families, unpaid, is on the increase,’ Emily Holzhausen OBE , director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, said of the findings.

‘Yet the financial and personal consequences of this are significant for families, business and the economy.  

‘Only last week we published our State of Caring 2018 survey showing that 72% of carers had experienced mental ill-health as a result of caring, 35% had given up work to care, one in seven had seen a reduction in services even though their needs had stayed the same.’

Other findings in report include the fact that 59% of those providing care for elderly relatives are women, with 65% of the carers providing care for a sick or disabled child also being women.

This also showed the impact caring can have an earning, with non-carer women aged 40-64 making £50 a month more than carers who it is reported earn a median of £1,450 a month.

Kathryn Petrie, Social Market Foundation economist, said of these findings:

‘More women with professional and managerial jobs are trying to combine work with family care. We know that carers are often driven to reduce their hours or leave work altogether, and without proper support for these carers, there is a risk that women are increasingly driven out of professional careers, reversing recent progress towards equality in the workforce.”