MILLIONS of unpaid carers are being pushed to breaking point and may be forced to quit work, warns Carers UK as new figures reveal the devastating impact of Covid-19.
Findings from the charity’s State of Caring report reveals many of the services that unpaid carers depend on to help their loved ones have reduced or closed.
Over half of unpaid carers (55%) who use crucial day services have reduced or no access, and only 13% are confident that they would get the support they need next year.
Six in 10 said they were worried services will be reduced and nearly half (47%) said they were anxious about losing access to voluntary sector services because of funding constraints.
One in five who work said they would be forced to reduce their working hours or would be at risk of giving up work altogether if they do not get affordable and accessible care to support them working where needed.
Carers UK’s chief executive Helen Walker said: “Unpaid carers have been ignored and put under enormous pressure for years. As any additional social care funding will not start this winter, carers could be facing a difficult future.
“They will not be able to cope if we go on like this and the social care system they prop up would collapse without the care they provide.
“The Comprehensive Spending Review must recognise this and invest in our unpaid carers, or we risk sleepwalking into a new social care crisis. The Chancellor has the power to change carers’ lives significantly for the better if he funds social care properly now.”
The charity estimates the number of unpaid carers increased by 4.5m at the height of the pandemic to 13.6m. Unpaid carers also saved the UK economy £193 billion a year during the pandemic.
Dorothy Cook, who cares for her husband Melvin who has advanced brain disease, has been hugely affected by cuts to social care. She said: “I’m scared for the future and I don’t know what will happen to us in 12 months’ time.
“We’ve been together for 47 years, but his illness is progressing. It’s heart-breaking to see someone you love deteriorate but it’s made worse when you don’t have enough help to care for him practically. Unpaid carers are on our knees with exhaustion and we need help.”
The charity is calling for is calling for:
- An immediate increase in funding for social care to ensure that services can manage over winter.
- Increased funding over the next three years until funding comes through from the Health and Care Levy.
- £1.5 billion investment for carers’ breaks and urgent investment over the next three years as a minimum to support social care. This will be essential for people juggling work and care to stay in employment.
- Helpline 0808 808 7777.