Money Wellness
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calendar icon10 Jun 2024

Carers Week: most have no choice about becoming an unpaid carer

A study carried out to coincide with the start of Carers Week 2024 (10-16 June) has revealed 10 million unpaid carers in the UK had no choice about taking on that role.

Responding to a YouGov poll, 62% of current and former unpaid carers said there was no other option available.

This compares to 29% who said there were other options but they chose to become an unpaid carer.

The survey also suggested the situation may be getting worse, as current unpaid carers were more likely to say they had no choice than former unpaid carers (66% vs 59%).

The toll of unpaid care

Respondents to the survey said the impact of giving unpaid care was overall more negative than positive, with:

  • 70% saying it had made their mental health worse
  • 60% revealing it had impacted their physical health
  • 56% disclosing it had affected their work life
  • 54% mentioning it had damaged their finances
  • 43% admitting it had put pressure on their relationships

Forced to give up a dream life

Dorothy Cook from Bristol stopped working more than 10 years ago to look after her husband Melvin who has a rare brain disease. She had to give up running a successful business to become a full-time carer. She said:

“I was forced into giving up my dream life, job, friends, relationships, and my physical and mental health suffered. I am financially poorer.

“I do it because of my love for someone who has found themselves dependent on me. I also have little choice about caring because the system is unable to provide the care my husband needs.

“It leaves me without enough breaks and the essential support I also need for my own health.

“I’m often caring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is exhausting.”

Time for government action

Another YouGov poll found 73% of the public support calls for more government help for unpaid carers.

Commenting on the surveys, chief executive of Carers UK Helen Walker said:

“These findings demonstrate how caring can have a profound effect on every aspect of life and wellbeing, from mental and physical health, being able to work, or affecting their future income including pensions.

“That’s why we need to see a future government deliver action across government in the form of a national carers strategy.

“With an ageing population, this is becoming ever more important.”

Help if you’re an unpaid carer

Find out about the benefits you may be entitled to if you’re an unpaid carer.

You can also get information about other types of support on the Carers UK website.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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