Carers Uk have produced a report – Heading for Crisis: Caught between caring and rising cost. The report comes from the State of Caring Survey, which received responses from over 13,000 unpaid carers across the UK. The survey was conducted between 12th July and 11 September 2022.
We have broken down the report below but if you want to read the entire report it can be seen by Clicking Here.
With the cost of living crisis in the news at the moment, one of the main stand out statistics is that the proportion of carers unable to afford their utility bills has more than doubled since last year.
- 44% of working age adults who are providing unpaid care for more than 35 hours a week are in poverty
- 84% of the public want to see carers provided with the additional support that they need.
- Carers can now only work for 14 hours or less at NLW rate and still claim Carer’s Allowance. Earning even £1 over this level would see a carer lose their entire entitlement to their Carer’s Allowance.
- Carers are a particularly vulnerable group to the effects of the cost of living crisis, due to their limited ability to earn an income and the extra costs they incur as a result of caring.
- 1 in 6 (16%) unpaid carers are in debt as a result of their caring role and their financial situation, increasing to 2 in 5 (40%) for unpaid carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance.
- The proportion of carers unable to afford their utility bills has more than doubled since last year -from 6% in 2021 to 14% in 2022.
- 77% of carers said that the rising cost of living was one of the main challenges they would face over the coming year.
- More than a third of carers are spending a significant amount of their income on energy costs: 35% of carers said that over 20% of their income went towards their gas and electricity bills.
- The proportion of people caring for over 5 years are almost twice as likely to be struggling to afford the cost of food (20%) and be in debt (19%) compared to people caring for less than 5 years (11% and 9% respectively)
- Nearly all carers who are struggling to make ends meet (93%) agreed that the increase in the cost of living was having a negative impact on their mental and physical health.
- Carers urgently require more targeted financial support over the coming months to enable them to get through the current cost of living crisis and continue to provide support to the person they are caring for.
- There is a clear failure of the current support system and wider structural reforms are required to ensure that unpaid carers are on a more secure financial footing. The report recommend that the UK Government creates a social security system to support them, which is fit for the 21st century.
- Despite the fact that the survey was conducted over the summer months, 7 in 10 unpaid carers (69%) said they are worried about living costs and whether they would be able to manage in the future
The Cost of Care
- Over half of carers (58%) said they are worried they would not be able to afford services or practical support in the future.
The additional costs of caring
- Several carers told us that the costs of care, such as buying certain foods to meet special dietary requirements, keeping the person they care for warm, and paying for life-saving caring equipment, reduced their ability to make ends meet.
The impact on carers’ health and wellbeing
- 62% of carers agreed that the increase in the cost of living was having a negative impact on their physical and mental health. Nearly all carers who are struggling to make ends meet (93%) agreed that the increase in the cost of living was having a negative impact on their mental and physical health.
Struggling to cope: how carers are trying to manage their finances
- carers who are struggling to make ends meet are more likely to be making difficult decisions and cutting back on spending
- 52% said they are cutting back on luxuries compared to 38% in 2021
- 47% said they are cutting back on hobbies/leisure activities compared to 37% in 2021
- A quarter of carers (25%) said they are cutting back on essentials such as food or heating, compared to 13% last year
- People caring for over 35 hours a week are much more likely to be cutting back on essentials like food and heating (28%) than people caring for less than 35 hours a week (16%)
- Carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are also more likely to be cutting back on food and heating (35%)
The need for additional financial support
- Over half of carers (52%) said that they need more financial support. Carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are more likely to say they needed financial support (68%).
Longer-term impacts on finances
- The average age that most people become carers is between 50 and 64, which means that they are pre-retirement age and should be at the peak of their careers. However, carers’ ability to save for retirement is constrained: Their pensions are 29% lower than the average private pension.