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Invisible but invaluable army of older carers

Age UK figures, released in May, show an 'invisible but invaluable' army of older carers are saving the health and care system a massive £5.9 billion a year by providing unpaid care.


Over the past seven years, the number of carers aged 80 and over has rocketed from 301,000 to 417,000, an increase of nearly 39%. Now 1 in 7 people aged 80 and over provide some form of care to family or friends.

Furthermore, around half (144,000) of carers in this age group who are caring for someone in their home are doing so for more than 35 hours a week, while a further 156,000 are caring for more than 20 hours a week. As our population continues to age, it is estimated that there will be more than 760,000 carers aged 80 and beyond by 2030.

Majority looking after a partner

The majority are looking after a partner as older couples try to manage living at home for as long as possible, leaning on each other for support. A minority care for disabled sons and daughters.

Meanwhile, the total number of carers aged 65 and over who are providing informal care for another person has risen from nearly 1.7 million to over 2 million in the last seven years.

Comment from Age UK

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the hundreds of thousands of over-80s who are caring, many of them virtually full time, saving the country nearly £6 billion a year in the process. More of that money needs spending on supporting them, as well as the people they look after – usually their partner, but sometimes a friend or disabled adult child.

Hundreds of thousands not claiming Pension Credit

These figures come at the same time as a new report by the charity Independent Age has found that nearly 1 million pensioners are living in poverty. In addition, an estimated 750,000 individuals over the age of 75 are failing to claim the Pension Credit they are entitled to, with an estimated 950,000 pensioners in this older age bracket living in poverty.

The report calls on ministers to do more to make older pensioners aware they can top their pensions with other support. The report goes on to make a number of other recommendations designed to help those over 75.

Use Turn2us services to find help

If you are a carer, the ‘Carers’ section of the Your Situation’ section on our website has information about ways you might be able to get help if you are struggling financially. This includes information on Carer's Allowance and Carer’s Credit.

We also have information for people who have an illness, disability or injury and Older people

You can also check your benefit entitlement using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator or find out whether you are eligible for charitable grant using our Turn2us Grants Search.

We also have a Find an Adviser tool to help you find local sources of help, such as carers centres and benefits advisers.


Date of publication: June 2016

Coronavirus Information

My child's school is closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. What can I do?

The government has announced that schools will be closing for the majority of students from 20 March 2020.

Children in the following groups will still be able to go to school if their parents choose to send them:

  • The children of key workers
  • Children receiving support from social services
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs​)
  • Young carers

If you need to take time off work to care for your children, you should check your employment rights on the ACAS website.

What if I am well but my employer tells me not to work because of the coronavirus outbreak?

This will depend on your contract and is an employment law issue. You may be able to get advice from ACAS on this. You will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

What if I have been in contact with someone with coronavirus and don’t want to go to work and risk infecting my colleagues and customers?

You will only be able to get special help under the coronavirus rules if you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS advice. You can find the current NHS coronavirus advice on the NHS website

What if I am not getting any customers in my self-employed business because of the coronavirus?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit, but you will not be entitled to any special support because of the coronavirus outbreak. You may have the minimum income floor applied to your claim, or you may be required to look for full time-employment.

I’m on a zero-hours contract, will I get paid if I’m told to self isolate?

If you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS guidance and you usually earn at least £120 per week, you should get Statutory Sick Pay even if you are on a zero hours contract.

What if I am homeless with no income so can’t self-isolate and need funds for accommodation?

The government has not published any guidance for what you should do if you are homeless and develop coronavirus symptoms. It would be best to contact your local authority for advice. You should do so by telephone if at all possible.