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Carers UK: State of Caring 2019

  • 10/07/2019
  • Author:bridgetmccall

This article is over a year old

Unpaid carers face bleak financial future paying care costs on top of tens of hours of care per week

Money in the palm of a hand

New research released by Carers UK shows unpaid carers are “bankrupting their future to pay for the present”.

As well as providing significant levels of care themselves, more than two thirds (68%) of carers are also using their own income or savings to cover the cost of care, equipment or products for the person they care for. As a result, many are struggling financially and unable to save for their own retirement.

A survey of over 7,500 people currently caring unpaid for family or friends reveals the huge personal and financial cost of caring for a loved one. The majority of whom provide well over 50 hours of care every week, with two in five carers (39%) saying they are struggling to make ends meet. Those who take on caring responsibilities often struggle to juggle a job as well, with many reducing hours, turning down promotions or leaving work altogether.

The financial pressure on carers is having a knock on effect on their futures, with more than half (53%) of all carers unable to save for retirement.

Those struggling to make ends meet are the hardest hit as carers with little money to spare are paying hundreds of pounds to cover the costs of essentials like nutritional supplements, bed pads and mobility equipment.

The vast majority (78%) of carers who report they struggle financially are paying towards the cost of care services or equipment for the person they support. For those on a low income or receiving Carer’s Allowance – the benefit for people caring for more than 35 hours a week and just £66.15 per week – it is a never ending struggle to make ends meet. Three quarters (73%) of this group are unable to save for retirement.

On top of the huge personal cost of care, crucial support is being cut with one in eight carers (12%) reporting that they or their loved one received less care or support in the previous year, as a result of reduced support from social services.

The survey findings paint a worrying picture of carers under immense financial, physical and mental strain and an underfunded social care system that is taking its toll on families.

Carers UK comments

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“This is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, with carers already providing high levels of support left short-changed as they use money for their retirement trying to cover the care costs of their loved one today.

“As it stands, providing unpaid care is pushing thousands of families into poverty and is having a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life.

“Our current social care system is on the brink. Families urgently need affordable, high quality care services and carers need access to regular breaks and stronger workplace rights to ensure they can combine work and care if they wish to.

“The leadership candidates cannot afford to ignore this burning issue affecting millions across the country and must commit to funding and delivering a reformed system that has families at its heart.

"Carers UK is urging the government to urgently put in place the financial and practical support that carers need, both in the short term and over the longer term, to ensure the sustainability of the health and social care system."

Support for Carers

If you are caring for someone, make sure that you are receiving all the help that is available to you through benefits, grants and other support.

Turn2us has a specific Your Situation information section for carers, where you can find out more information on benefits, grants and other resources.


To check what benefits you might be entitled to quickly and easily, you can use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator.

Benefits you may be able to claim include:

Carer's Allowance - if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and the person you care for is getting a qualifying disability benefit.

Universal Credit Carer Element - Unlike Carer's Allowance where you are prevented from claiming if your net earnings are above a certain level (£123 per week for 2019/20), for the Carer's Element your level of earnings does not prevent you from claiming. However, as the Carer's Element is a part of Universal Credit, which is means-tested, your earnings and other income will affect whether you can get this and how much Universal Credit you are entitled to.

Pension Credit - is a means-tested benefit for people on a low income who have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age. If you are in a mixed age couple where one of you is below Pension Credit age, you will not be able to claim it, unless you qualified before 15 May 2019, and get your claim in before 13 August 2019. A mixed aged couple who doesn't qualify for Pension Credit could claim Universal Credit instead.

Carer's Credit - carers can be ‘credited’ with Class 3 national insurance contributions to help them qualify for other benefits which they may not otherwise have been eligible. This is if their caring responsibilities prevented them from being able to work and pay national insurance contributions in the normal way.

You may also be eligible for help with housing costs.

Seek benefits advice

However, it is important to get benefits advice before you claim these benefits, as the person you're caring for could lose Severe Disability Premium if you claim Carer's Allowance or Universal Credit Carer Element.

You can use our Find an Adviser to find local benefits experts.


If you are a carer, financial and other support might be available from a charitable fund, if you meet its qualifying rules.

Examples of charitable funds that might help carers include those that support people:

  • Who work or have worked in particular jobs or industries. For example, Charity for Civil Servants and Grocery Aid

  • Have or are caring for someone with a particular health condition, such as the MS Society

  • An educational charity that helps families on low incomes pay for school trips or outings

  • A charitable trust attached to a water or electricity company. 

Use the Turn2us Grants Search

Help from the local council

If you are caring for someone, help may be available to you from your local council department specifically to meet your needs as a carer.

All carers have the right to a Carer's Assessment of their needs, although what sort of assessment, who does it, who pays for the services and your associated rights to support depend on the type of carer you are.

Contact your local council

Carer's UK guide to Carer's Assessments (Please look at the information for the country of the UK that you live in.)

Source and access to the State of Caring Report 2019

Carers UK: Unpaid carers face bleak financial future paying care costs on top of tens of hours of care each week

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