State of Caring Carers UK State of Caring 2017 Report - Page 20

STATE OF CARING REPORT 2017 Costs of caring The UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers provide the majority of care for families, saving the economy an estimated £132 billion per year. 3 Yet Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind, at just £62.70 a week (2017/18 rates), and carers often report struggling financially. We regularly hea r of families facing difficulties making ends meet and affording their basic living costs alongside the additional costs associated with caring. Financial constraints are made worse by many carers being forced to give up work as a result of their caring responsibilities, removing their opportunities to support themselves while they are supporting others. We positively recognise the fact that the UK Government chose to protect carers’ benefits by allowing it to rise in line with the Consumer Price Index whilst other benefits remained frozen. However, the fact that many carers also depend on means tested benefits that are frozen means that carers and their families are far from unaffected by this policy. Almost half (48%) of carers responding to the survey reported living on a household income of less than £1,500 per month and nearly 4 out of 10 carers (39%) described themselves as struggling to make ends meet. As many as 8% of those responding to the survey said they were living in a household receiving under £500 in monthly income. We’re treading a fine line, keeping our heads just above water Those who provided care for over 50 hours a week were slightly more likely to be living on a low income, with the majority (52%) of this group reporting that their household monthly income was below £1,500, whilst sandwich carers and those providing care to a disabled child were most likely to describe themselves as struggling to make ends meet. We had to declare bankruptcy and lost our house as a direct result of caring responsibilities when I gave up work. My son was too poorly at birth for me to be able to work On the other hand, carers who were themselves in paid work or who lived in a household where someone was in paid work, were more likely than other groups to have a household income over £1,500 (67%), whilst older people were the most likely to say they can afford their bills without struggling financially (69%). As I am currently in employment l can pay my bills but if I give up work to be a carer full time we will be on the breadline When we asked how carers who are struggling to make ends meet cope, a number of people reported cutting back on items and activities which are fundamental to their wellbeing, such as hobbies and leisure activities (53%), seeing friends and family (42%) and essentials, like food and heating (31%). Almost 1 in 10 of those who said they were struggling (9%) also reported cutting back on support services which help them directly with caring. “At 49 with no extra income, I am worried about the future. We are using savings we can’t replace Carers UK, University of Sheffield, University of Leeds (2015) Valuing Carers 2015; the rising value of carers’ support 3 20