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2021 Census data on unpaid care and employment in England and Wales released by the ONS today shows:

  • 2.5m (2,475,278) unpaid carers are in employment:
  • 1.5m (1,529,309) are caring for 19 hours or less
  • 500,000 (513,145) are caring for 20-49 hours
  • 400,000 (432,824) are caring for over 50 hours
  • The proportion of carers who are juggling employment with high levels of care has increased since 2011.
  • In 2011, 76% carers in employment were caring for less than 19 hours, 12% were caring for 20-49 hours, and 12% were caring for over 50 hours.
  • In 2021, 62% carers in employment were caring for less than 19 hours, 21% were caring for 20-49 hours, and 17% were caring for over 50 hours.
  • The split by sex is 1m male carers in employment (1,050,670) and 1.4m women (1,424,608)
  • An additional 43,000 (43,355) unpaid carers are full-time students who are in employment
  • 1.2m (1,178,627) unpaid carers are retired
  • 600,000 (625,720) unpaid carers are looking after family or home
  • 200,000 (217,958) unpaid carers are long term sick or disabled
  • 100,000 (117,068) unpaid carers are unemployed and seeking work/waiting to start work (excluding students)


Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said:

"This new 2021 census data shows a notable increase over the last decade in the number of unpaid carers providing high levels of care whilst also juggling a job. Around half a million unpaid carers providing 20-49 hours of care a week are also in work, while 400,000 providing more than 50 hours of care a week are managing to squeeze in time to work as well. During a difficult cost-of living crisis when every pound counts, and when access to social care is so limited, it is vital that this group of carers is adequately supported by Government and employers to manage both roles. Combining high levels of care with employment comes with significant challenges and major stresses. For those carers providing more than 35 hours of care a week and receiving Carer’s Allowance, it is vital that the earnings threshold is raised so that they are not penalised for working more hours. Carers UK would also like to see the rate of Carer’s Allowance raised.The introduction of a statutory right for carers to a week of unpaid leave, currently progressing through the House of Lords via the Carer’s Leave Bill, will also be an important step forward in helping carers manage the pressures of juggling work and care.”

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