Call for greater recognition and support for carers

November 25, 2021

To coincide with Carers Rights Day, Carers UK published new research today to review the impact of the pandemic on carers’ work and how much support has been offered by employers.

Carers UK is encouraging carers to find out about their rights and entitlements so that they get support at the right time as part of a UK-wide drive for Carers Rights Day.

The new research report: ‘Supporting carers at work: opportunity and imperative’ showed that whilst some employers were more supportive of carers within their workplace, a significant proportion of carers were at risk of reducing their working hours or giving up work altogether if they did not get the right support measures in place.

The results also show how tough continuing to juggle work and providing unpaid care can be.

Some of the key findings included:

  • 72% of unpaid carers worry about juggling work and care.
  • 53% of working carers say returning to workplace will be more challenging.
  • 12% of working carers are at risk of reducing or giving up work if they are not allowed to work from home.
  • One in five carers at risk of reducing or giving up work without social care.

By far the biggest risk factor to carers leaving work was the lack of social care. One in five (20%) of all working carers said they needed affordable and accessible care otherwise they would be at risk of reducing their working hours or giving up altogether. Similarly, one in ten (10%) needed services they used to rely on to return or they faced the same risks.

This is not a surprise given earlier research by Carers UK which found that 55% of carers who relied on day services were experiencing a reduction in support or no access at all. Around one third of carers who relied on care workers had experienced the same.

With the pandemic, a staggering 2.8 million workers became unpaid carers virtually overnight. This took the level of caring from an estimated one in seven workers pre-pandemic to one in five.

Things have got tougher for carers with 81% taking on more care often because the needs of the person they are caring for have increased.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said, ‘It’s great to see that flexible working and carers’ support within the workplace has made progress, but we can see from carers’ experiences that we’re at a crossroads where it’s still make or break for many. Carers have been providing more care than ever, with very few getting the breaks they need and the support they normally rely on. As a result, they are exhausted and in poorer health.

‘The other part of the equation is greater investment in care services that carers both need and rely on in order to stay in paid work. There is only so far flexible working from employers can compensate for a lack of good quality care services.’

ADASS welcomes the new report by Carers UK. Stephen Chandler, President of ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) said, ‘This important report underlines the vital contribution that carers make – they are the backbone of our economy and our care services.  It also shows the major impact that caring has for someone’s own health and well-being. We support Carers UK’s call for greater recognition and support for carers. We have ourselves previously called for £1.5bn to support carers to get a break to enable them to keep going over winter. We need investment now to avoid carers breaking down which will result in further pressures on health and care services, with devastating impacts for all of us, especially those of us who are older or disabled.’

In relation to social care reform, Stephen Chandler added, ‘As we reform adult social care, we need to radically re-think the relationship between working and caring. At a time when the economy is shouting out for workers, we must do more to support carers, with regular breaks, stronger employment rights and greater support to remain in employment.’

Visit the Carers UK website to read the report in full.

In other news, new analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals that social care-providing authorities, are now spending more than 60% of their outgoings on essential social care services.

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