Carers UK has released new research which finds that thousands of unpaid carers continue to struggle financially and are being forced into poverty because of the cost of living crisis and a benefit system that is unfit for purpose.
The report sheds light on the financial challenges faced by unpaid carers in the UK. It provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of caring on finances, including the rising cost of living, and the need for a robust poverty prevention strategy across government to target and prevent poverty among unpaid carers. The report highlights the struggles of carers who are facing significant financial hardship, with many having to cut back on vital things that improve their wellbeing. The report also provides recommendations for policymakers and government officials to address the financial challenges faced by carers and to support them in their vital role. Overall, the State of Caring 2023 report provides valuable insights into the financial struggles of unpaid carers and the need for greater support and recognition of their contributions to society.
The research, based on findings from our State of Caring 2023 survey, highlights how carers, particularly those receiving Carer’s Allowance, are extremely vulnerable to high costs due to their limited ability to earn an income and because of the additional caring costs that they face.
The report found that 75% of unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance are now struggling with cost-of-living pressures, almost half (46%) are cutting back on essentials including food and heating, while 45% said they were struggling to make ends meet; a rise of 6% compared with 39% last year.
The research showed that, of carers receiving Carer’s Allowance:
- 34% were struggling to afford the cost of food, compared with 21% of all carers – an increase from 29% in 2022.
- 71% said say they were worried about living costs and whether they will be able to manage in the future, compared with 61% of all carers.
- 72% are worried about the impact of caring responsibilities (e.g. petrol for hospital visits, heating, specific dietary requirements) on their finances.
- 54% had cut back on seeing family and friends, compared with 43% in 2022 and 38% in 2021.
Some key points are:
- The cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on carers, with a substantial increase in the proportion of carers having to cut back on vital things which improve their wellbeing, such as spending time with family and friends, or engaging in hobbies and interests.
- Carers are facing significant financial challenges, with many struggling to make ends meet and experiencing financial hardship.
- There is a need for a robust poverty prevention strategy across government to target and prevent poverty among unpaid carers, using the best data available.
- Government and policy makers need to have a clear understanding of the risks of financial hardship for unpaid carers, and the routes there.
As a result of the intolerable financial pressures carers are facing, Carers UK are calling on the Government to urgently overhaul Carer’s Allowance and increase the earnings threshold for claiming the benefit so that carers can continue to earn alongside their caring responsibilities. At only £76.75 a week for providing a minimum of 35 hours of care, Carer’s Allowance remains the lowest benefit of its kind – equivalent to £2.19 per hour of care provided.
More immediately, unpaid carers urgently need a financial boost this winter to ensure they can survive the winter months. That’s why Carers UK are also calling on the Government to provide carers with additional and targeted financial support now, to prevent even more unpaid carers falling into poverty at the harshest time of year.