1 million give up work to care

Friday, 11 December 2009

One in six carers give up or cut back work to care and face a significant drop in income which can continue for several years. New research by Ipsos MORI for Carers Rights Day shows the average carer in Britain today cares for around six-and-a-half years clocking up an average of 27 hours a week.

With their focus on making sure their partner, parent or disabled child has the care they need, over half haven’t thought about or started to save towards their long-term financial future. This includes around a third who haven’t even thought this far ahead.

A separate study of round-the-clock carers by Carers UK reveals that over a third (35%) had missed out on benefits like Carer’s Allowance because they didn’t realise they could claim. Half (49%) said that not getting these benefits affected their health and two in five that they were struggling financially. One in five said they were in debt because of missing out.

Carers UK and the Department for Work and Pensions are calling on all carers to check they get all the financial help and practical support on offer.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “Caring can take a massive toll on carers’ finances. Whilst facing hugely reduced incomes from giving up work or reducing their hours, carers face all the additional costs of care. With potentially a decade of caring ahead of them, Carers UK urges carers to seek advice and claim the benefits they are entitled to.”

Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society Angela Eagle said: “From April next year, Government reforms will enable people who look after someone for more than 20 hours a week to build up entitlement to a basic state pension, thereby helping those who may not even think of themselves as a carer safeguard their financial future.”

To coincide with Carers Rights Day, Carers UK has published two new advice guides, Caring about your pension and Looking after someone:  A carer’s guide to rights and entitlements. They can be ordered from:

•www.carersuk.org
•from 0808 808 7777
•or by emailing adviceline@carersuk.org.
•or by going into any Lloydspharmacy store.   To find local stores visit: www.lloydspharmacy.com

On Carers Rights Day over 1,500 events took place across the UK, providing carers with advice and information on their finances including benefits checks and pensions forecasts.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The 2001 census showed that there are nearly 6 million carers (5,884,450) in the UK. This is 10% of the total population, or approximately 12% of the adult population

2. Ipsos MORI surveyed 3946 adults aged 16 and over, 655 were current (426) or past (229) carers. Fieldwork was undertaken face-to-face in November 2009. The figures were subsequently weighted and are representative of all GB adults.

Key findings:

•9% of carers had given up work and 7% had reduced their hours to care
•29% of carers are caring for over 50 hours a week
•The average number years carers had cared for is 6.46 years.
•The average number of years they expected to care for is 13 years with 29% expecting to care for a least another 15 years.
•32% of carers have not thought about their long-term financial future with an additional 24% having thought about it but not started saving towards it.

3. 352 carers responded to a Carers UK survey in November 2009.

Key findings:

  • 35% of carers had missed out on State benefits because they didn’t realise they could claim them
  • 49% said not getting these benefits affected their health, 20% said they were struggling financially and
  • 20% said they were in debt.
  • Of those missing out on financial support 20% said they would not now be in debt if they had claimed,
  • 40% said they would not now be struggling financially ‘all the time’
  • 77% of carers surveyed cared for 50 or more hours a week.
  • 9% had missed out on Carer’s Allowance for 3-5 years, 10% for 5-10 years and 14% for over 10 years, because they did not realise they were entitled to it.
  • 52% felt their had a gap in their National Insurance record when they were working or not claiming benefits, which could reduce their pensions in retirement

4. Carers UK can provide spokespeople and case studies of carers

Contact:

Steve McIntosh: 0207 378 4937, email: steve.mcintosh@carersuk.org
Emily Holzhausen: 0207 378 4935, email: emily.holzhausen@carersuk.org
Out of hours contact: 07505 184 262

5. Simple steps for carers to protects their pension is available from the DWP Press Office. Call Vicky Hatchett on 0203 267 5121 or email victoria.hatchett@dwp.gsi.gov.uk