Received from CarersUK
NATION’S CARERS STRUGGLING WITH ALARMING LEVELS OF HARDSHIP:
CARERS UK INQUIRY REVEALS
12-month investigation exposes stark reality faced by those looking after loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill: loss of savings, debt and struggling to afford food and heating
SPIRALLING costs of caring, coupled with devastating cuts to support are leaving families caring for loved ones in serious hardship, new research by charity Carers UK reveals.
The charity’s Caring & Family Finances Inquiry shows vast numbers of carers accumulating unmanageable debt as they struggle to cope with loss of income, savings and benefits alongside rising everyday food, fuel and care related bills.
Key evidence includes:
* Over 4 in 10 (44%) in debt as a result of caring. 1 in 7 carers in debt over £10,000
* A fifth relying on overdraft or credit card to make ends meet
* 1 in 3 over £20,000 worse off as a result of caring
* Almost half cutting back on essentials like food (45%) and heating (44%)
* Savings of 1 in 10 carers totally drained by basic bills and everyday living costs
* 2.3m given up work to care. Half of working-age carers in a household with no-one in paid work.
The Inquiry also reveals that, despite rapid rises in the number of families providing care to loved ones,
Government cuts to support leave carers facing a shocking £1 billion cut.
And, Carers UK says, carers not only feel they are not recognised or valued but also feel victim of increasing public criticism for claiming their social security entitlements.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “Those caring, unpaid, for loved ones save society vast sums, but at huge personal cost – a cost this Inquiry shows is pushing families to the brink. Caring is often a dual blow, with household incomes hit by reduced earnings, and bills rising as a result of the extra costs of ill-health or disability. With an ageing population, more of us will care for loved ones – yet a blizzard of cuts to social care and benefits mean there is less and less support available. This is unacceptable and unsustainable. This country’s carers are being badly let down. Unless Government acts to stop the cuts to support for carers there is the risk families will be pushed to breaking point and left unable to care for their own.”
In the Inquiry recommendations, Carers UK is calling for:
* An end to cuts to carers’ benefits and support services.
* Urgent reform of financial help for carers.
* The Government to make a commitment that future policy will not leave carers worse off, by implementing a ‘carer’ test for future benefits and social care proposals.
The main carers’ benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is currently £59.75 a week for a minimum of 35 hours caring – equivalent to £1.67 an hour. It is not available to those who earn more than £100 per week or to those in receipt of the basic State Pension.
Experiences of carers who gave evidence to the Inquiry, included the need to keep the vulnerable and ill warm, meant families footing bills for running heating for 12 and more hours a day, with no let-up in warmer months when those with serious illness must be kept cool; costs of travel to medical appointments and the need to rely heavily on taxis; the need to wash three or more loads of washing a day when caring for someone with continence problems, or who is tube fed; the increasingly prohibitive price of buying in care to simply get out of the door for work or respite, compounding the isolation caring can bring; the cost to future financial security and resilience of quitting work or cutting hours to care.
Carers UK Adviceline 0808 8087777 / email@example.com
Contacts: * Steve McIntosh 0207 378 4937 / firstname.lastname@example.org
* Maggie Stratton 0207 378 4936 / email@example.com
* Out of hours mobile: 07875724088 or 07941273108.
Notes for Editors:
* Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick partner or a disabled family member. Carers UK:
o supports carers and provides information and advice about caring
o influences policy through our research based
o campaigns to make life better for carers.
* Evidence for the Caring & Family Finances Inquiry was gathered both through the charity’s State of Caring Survey of 3,500 carers and through detailed evidence sessions and interviews with carers of all ages and from a wide range of backgrounds across the UK.
* The full report will be available from 00:01 on Tuesday 4th February 2014 at http://www.carersuk.org/professionals/resources/research-library – embargoed copies are available on request.
Five key facts about carers:
* There are over 6.5 million carers in the UK
* Every year over 2 million people become carers
* Carers save the economy £119 billion per year – an average £18,473 per carer
* 3 in 5 people will be affected by caring responsibilities at some point in their lives
* The main carers’ benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is £59.75 for a minimum of 35 hours – equivalent to £1.71 an hour http://www.carersuk.org